The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Factors influencing participation of underrepresented students in STEM fields: matched mentors and mindsets

Partners' Institution
University of Peloponnese
Year of publication
Educational stage
Secondary Level, University Level
Journal name
International Journal of STEM Education
Thematic Area
Gender Inequality
This study provides additional information towards understanding the views and experiences of women and students of color who are pursuing STEM. The findings have implications for strategies and interventions that can potentially be used by educators to help support STEM participation among diverse students.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
The goal of this pilot study was to better understand the beliefs and experiences of underrepresented students who are actively pursuing a career in STEM. A unique aspect of this study is its focus on a diverse population that is nearly all women and people of color, a group for which limited data are available. The researchers sought to describe the views of this cohort across key domains associated with their participation in STEM.

They developed a survey tool based on published literature and established instruments, including measures of STEM belonging, science identity, and growth mindset, as well as measures assessing students’ views on their STEM participation. They surveyed members of a STEM-focused non-profit who were in college, graduate school, or were recent graduates. Forty-eight adults currently pursuing STEM responded to the survey, most of them were female (71%).

- Most participants indicated the importance of meeting and being mentored in STEM by someone of their same gender and ethnicity.
- Most students believed that media exposure to ethnicity- and gender-matched STEM professionals would be effective encouragement to pursue STEM.
Another result is that women and students of color are relatively familiar with minority social media influencers, but may not have been exposed to media depictions of minority female STEM professionals to the same extent.
- Most surveyed students indicated that matched mentorship through virtual media could be effective and this approach may have important differences from email-based interaction.
- Family context during childhood appears to have been important in motivating students in this cohort to seek STEM careers.
Point of Strength
Most participants indicated the importance of meeting and being mentored in STEM by those of their same gender and ethnicity, either in person or through media.
Mentoring, Media models, Ethnicity, Gender, Representation, Belonging, Identity, Mindsets, STEM
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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