Understanding Belonging to Improve Persistence: A Gender Study

States. Recent reports suggest that projected workforce shortfalls in STEM can be addressed by improvements in retention alone. Retention of STEM students is linked to belonging, a fundamental motivation for human behavior that is applicable in academic contexts. However, STEM educational research in the area of belonging is lacking. The goal of this study was to provide insight into belonging for STEM students with a focus on gender. A survey of more than five hundred students across five institutions revealed that, overall, differences in belonging for male and female STEM students are not statistically significant. However, female students did report statistically greater class belonging than male students. These findings are important because they suggest that STEM environments remain equally or more appealing to female students, an underrepresented group in STEM, as they enter and advance in STEM majors.

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