Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Committee Chairperson

Heather Schugar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Chandler, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brett Criswell, Ph.D.


Increasing the number of people who choose science is of national importance for both the economy and scientific dominance (Wang, 2013). Women and girls are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, fields their numbers are increasing, however, they are doing so disproportionally. Women are a minority in fields such as engineering and computer science, but are well-represented in the biological sciences. This mixed methods study investigated the intersection of gender and science identity and how girls formed science identities. This study used Mann-Whitney U tests to analyze the Likert scale data and both a priori and inductive coding to analyze the focus group discussion data. Two differences were identified between boys and girls. The first was that girls rated themselves as less able to get good science grades than boys and they were less comfortable talking to people who worked in science careers. The focus group data showed that girls stated approachable teachers and friendly classmates with a common interest were valued by girls in science classes. Emphasizing a growth mindset can offset girls’ self-assessment of achieving less satisfactory grades than boys. Girls mentioned that they enjoyed learning about the world through science. Intentionally developing teachers’ and students’ worldview may help create more inclusive climates. More inclusive and collaborative educational climates can better model the larger scientific community where sharing and communication are encouraged.