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Analysis of the retention of women in higher education STEM programs

Gabriela Ortiz-Martínez, Patricia Vázquez-Villegas, María Ileana Ruiz-Cantisani, Mónica Delgado-Fabián, Danna A. Conejo-Márquez and Jorge Membrillo-Hernández ()
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Gabriela Ortiz-Martínez: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Patricia Vázquez-Villegas: Tecnologico de Monterrey
María Ileana Ruiz-Cantisani: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Mónica Delgado-Fabián: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Danna A. Conejo-Márquez: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Jorge Membrillo-Hernández: Tecnologico de Monterrey

Palgrave Communications, 2023, vol. 10, issue 1, 1-14

Abstract: Abstract Gender equity and quality education are Sustainable Development Goals that are present when a culture of equity and inclusion is pursued in society, companies, and institutions. Particularly in undergraduate programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), there is a noticeable gender gap between men and women. The objective of this study was to find out the causes of permanence in STEM careers of women, as well as the possible causes of career abandonment towards another STEM or non-STEM career. This was done by analyzing historical data for admission to STEM careers and using an instrument (survey) for data collection carried out in a private university in Mexico. Historical data indicates that only 17% of the total population were women choosing a STEM career. A survey was carried out for 3 months to obtain information on the factors that affect the decision to opt for a STEM career or to remain in it. It was found that men and women prefer inspiring Faculty who motivate them to continue their careers. Factors such as the competitive environment and the difficulty of teaching with less empathetic Faculty were negative and decisive aspects of decision-making. School achievement did not influence the dropout rate of women in STEM careers. The factors of choice and desertion of women in STEM careers were determined, and actions of educational innovation such as mentoring and timely monitoring of already enrolled female students, digital platforms for students and Faculty, awareness workshops for Faculty, and talks with successful women in STEM areas were proposed.

Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1057/s41599-023-01588-z

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