Study Finds That All Students Benefit When More Women Are in Their First College STEM Course

According to a new study from researchers at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, women who have more other women students in their first college STEM class are more likely to persist in STEM fields and pursue engineering as a major.

The research team examined data from students enrolled in an engineering program at a large, public, research-intensive university. The researchers analyzed a random selection of these engineering students to see how their experience in their first required engineering course influenced their educational outcomes. The results found that an increase in percentage of women students in their first course improves persistence in the major for all students regardless of their gender.

Co-author Amanda Griffith, an economics professor at Wake Forest University believes these findings demonstrate that classroom policies may have unintended consequences. “There are ways to arrange classroom characteristics that may encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering, and that is a benefit to all students and the field in general,” she said.

Dr. Griffith is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where she double majored in biology and economics. She holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. both in economics from Cornell University.

The full article, “First Impressions in the Classroom: How Do Class Characteristics Affect Student Grades and Majors?” was published in the journal Economics of Education Review. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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