A Generations-Focused Examination of Individual Differences and Women in STEM Fields

Date

2022-08

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Abstract

The urgent need for graduates and workers in STEM programs and workforce, respectively, highlights the importance of further improvements in women’s participation and representation in STEM education. In addition, the increase in women participation in the United States STEM education over the past four decades has been documented in the literature on STEM education and occupation. However, missing from the literature are studies that have examined mediators and moderators of the relationship between generational membership and completion of STEM degrees by women. The current study aimed to satisfy the following goals: (1) to determine whether vocational interests can potentially affect completion of a STEM degree by a woman based on generational membership (X vs. Y), and (2) to examine the moderating role of personality on the relationship between generational membership (X vs. Y) and completion of STEM degrees by women. First, using Holland’s model of vocational choice (1966, 1973), the study examined the role of vocational interest on the relationship between generational membership and completion of STEM degrees. For this endeavor, all STEM fields relevant to the study were classified under the investigative interest category of Holland’s model of vocational choice (1966, 1973). Second, four of the five personality traits of the Big Five Factor model (extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness) were examined as moderators of the relationship between generational membership and completion of STEM degrees. The current study utilized archival data from Birkman and employed The Birkman Method in all analyses. Using Hayes’ (2018) PROCESS macros, I performed regression analyses on all proposed models. Support was neither found for a role of vocational interest as a mediator nor personality traits as moderators of the relationship between a woman’s generational membership and their odds of completing a STEM degree.

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Keywords

STEM, Women, Personality, Vocational interests

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