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Women’s Daily Performance, Enjoyment, and Comfort in Male-Dominated Majors: The Role of Social Interactions in Classes

Katie M. Lawson ()
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Katie M. Lawson: Ball State University

Research in Higher Education, 2021, vol. 62, issue 4, No 3, 478-497

Abstract: Abstract Women drop out of male-dominated majors (MDMs) at a higher rate than men (Blickenstaff 2005). Research is needed to better understand contextual factors in the major, such as social interactions in major classes, that may increase women’s engagement in MDMs and ultimately reduce attrition (Lawson et al. in Sex Roles 78:542–560, 2018). The present study examined whether women in MDMs differed from men in MDMs and women in gender-neutral majors (GNMs) in terms of (1) levels of daily student engagement in major classes; and (2) the association between daily social interactions in classes and student engagement. Daily data were collected from 120 students (40 women in MDMs, 40 men in MDMs, 40 women in GNMs) about social interactions (talking to a peer, interacting with a professor one-on-one, and class discussions) and student engagement (perceived performance, enjoyment, and feelings of comfort) in major classes at the end of the day over a two week period. Results indicated that women in MDMs reported lower levels of daily engagement in major classes, relative to their peers. Talking with a peer and class discussions were associated with higher levels of student engagement, but these associations were qualified by group. Overall, the daily association between social experiences and student engagement were stronger for women in MDMs, relative to their peers. Results support the social-contextual model of prejudice (Murphy et al in Policy Insights Behav Brain Sci 5:66–74, 2018) in that classroom experiences disadvantaged women in MDMs, but daily social interactions may be particularly beneficial for women in these contexts.

Keywords: Women in male-dominated majors; Experience sampling methodology; Student engagement; Classroom experiences; Social interactions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s11162-020-09609-5

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