College women may abandon STEM majors at a greater rate than men because they believe that the pursuit of a STEM career conflicts with achieving other life goals. Few studies have investigated how the importance placed on specific life goals affects college major or career choices. We view changes in gender roles and life goals through the framework of “emerging adulthood” and expect changes in life goals to be systematically related to changes in college majors and career interest. This study pays special attention to women’s romantic relationships because the gender roles evoked by these relationships have been hypothesized to be in conflict with education goals.
In this study, we examine multiple aspects of communal goals, including marriage, family, and helping; investigate the impact of romantic relationship goals and the gender roles that accompany them in predicting women’s STEM interest; and examine how biology majors, where women are more represented, compare to other STEM majors with respect to life goals and gender roles.
Joan Barth is the PI. CO-PI’s are Rosanna Guadagno (University of Texas at Dallas), Carmen Burkhalter (University of North Alabama), Beth Todd (Engineering), Debra McCallum (ISSR), Mary Verstraete (University of Akron).
This project is funded by a grant from National Science Foundation.