Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Library and information Science


College of Information and Communications

First Advisor

Samantha K. Hastings


This study addresses the gender gap that exists in the STEM professions. The number of jobs in STEM is climbing rapidly, but participation by women is disproportionately low. Although they make up roughly half of the overall population, women account for only about one quarter of the STEM workforce. A similar gap exists among undergraduates majoring in STEM fields. This is an exploratory study intended to identify and explore factors contributing to this gender gap, as perceived by undergraduate students. Through an online survey and follow-up interviews of undergraduates at two universities in the southeastern United States, data were collected to provide in depth information on specific experiences participants consider to be influential with regard to their decision to pursue or abandon a career in STEM. Themes identified in the findings aligned closely with several ideas from research in Education, including the importance of a sense of belonging and personal agency to success and healthy development.