Female STEM Identity

I sought to understand how female-identifying, undergraduate students majoring in a STEM field perceive their identity. During the Fall 2021 semester, I began recruiting participants for a larger study related to this research. I successfully defended this work as my honors thesis in Spring 2022 and am planning publication to a national journal.

For more information about this project, feel free to contact me at kristen.hallas01@utrgv.edu.

Project history

The idea for this project sparked after a conversation amongst members of the Women in STEM Programs (WISP) organization at UTRGV about imposter syndrome. Working with Dr. Angela Chapman, I applied for Engaged Scholar & Artist Award grant funding to begin researching this topic with a team of students in Fall 2020.

Following the work of Carlone & Johnson (2007), we considered performance, recognition, and competence as the basis for female science identity. We also employed a framework of attitudes proposed by Glynn and Koballa (2006) as a model for science motivation. With these works in mind, we analyzed the interview of a female student concerning her secondary school and university experience studying mathematics. In Spring 2021, these findings were disseminated at the 4th Annual RGV STEM Education Consortium and the Engaged Scholar Symposium.

It was very rewarding to watch this project evolve over time. Former team members grew into new endeavors, pursuing graduate school and their own independent research topics.

I firmly stand behind this quote found during our literature review about narrative inquiry:

"If you look at how people actually live their lives, they do a lot of things that prevent them from seeing the narrative structures that characterize their lives. Mostly they don't look, don't pause to look," -Jerome Bruner

This research project gave all its members an opportunity to look beyond the stories we tell ourselves, to embrace a new perspective that honors our achievements within our respective domains.