Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Robin S. Grenier; Gary Lewicki

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Taking the first step to unveil female’s underrepresentation in STEM, this study adopts a mixed method design to explores possible factors that influence female college students’ choices to stay in or leave STEM. Undergraduates at University of Connecticut (N=386) completed an online questionnaire and female students who had either left (N=5) or were staying in STEM fields (N=7) were further selected to participate in the interview.

Results from the quantitative analysis showed that female students’ level of stigma consciousness is a significant predictor of their choice to stay in or leave STEM. Specifically, females who are more vulnerable to gender stereotype are more likely to leave STEM programs than those who are less vulnerable to gender stereotype. Qualitative analysis revealed how levels of a female’s stigma consciousness are gradually developed and constructed through their lived experiences interacting with their advisor, role models and peers. Their lack of STEM role models and their negative experience interacting with male advisors and male peers put female students’ under the constant pressure of gender stereotyping and leads to their low self-confidence regarding their ability and opportunity to succeed in STEM. Taken together, results from this study provide some insight in retaining more female students in STEM fields.

Major Advisor

Scott W. Brown

Available for download on Sunday, May 03, 2026