Type of Document Dissertation Author Kahveci, Ajda Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-07082005-003623 Title Impact of a Women's Program for Science, Mathematics and Engineering on Undergraduate Women: Activity Systems on the Periphery Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Middle and Secondary Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Penny J. Gilmer Committee Co-Chair Sherry A. Southerland Committee Co-Chair Jeffrey P. Chanton Committee Member Owen F. Gaede Committee Member Keywords
- Women In Science
- Women's Program
- Gender Issues
- Gender Equity
- Activity Theory
- Situated Learning
Date of Defense 2005-06-09 Availability unrestricted AbstractNational reports such as National Science Foundationís highlight womenís disproportionate distribution and differential treatment in the science, mathematics, and engineering (SM&E) fields, in both education and the workforce in the US. Women are less likely than men to choose a career that involves SM&E, and are more likely than men to earn bachelor's degrees in non-science and non-engineering fields.
The need for support and encouragement is obvious for women already in college intending to pursue a major in a SM&E field. Comprehensive support networks can be and are established through programs for women entering college and willing to pursue careers in SM&E fields. The context of this research was the Program for Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics (PWISEM) established in 2001 by a Southern teaching and research university in the US.
I constructed a thorough theoretical lens by interweaving the theory of situated learning/legitimate peripheral participation and the cultural-historical activity theory. I explored the interactions and contradictions that affected the science identity formation of the PWISEM students, how they identified themselves as future scientists, and the key factors PWISEM involved in motivating and supporting women students in their intended SM&E majors. The design of the research was dominant-less dominant, the dominant approach being qualitative and the less-dominant being quantitative.
The Program was successful in fostering the participation and retention of undergraduate women in SM&E. However, the women in the Program were more likely to internalize the status quo in the SM&E realms without actively challenging it (liberal feminist approach). To change the masculine culture embedded in SM&E, engaging in activism is essential. This research suggests that in fact, programs like PWISEM provide promising contexts for reforming the SM&E culture to be more appealing and inclusive of all.
I suggest that there can be both explicit and implicit ways of transformation within such contexts and argue that the implicit approach is more powerful. This research also informs the theory of situated learning in that newcomer interactions are a key aspect and their actions should be understood to involve much more than knowledge circulation.
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