Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Steven LeMire


The recruitment and retention of women in STEM have historically been a struggle. Several causes, such as social factors, stereotypes, and classroom environments, all play a role (Blackburn, 2017). Recruitment efforts are often focused on middle school students. Nevertheless, research shows that children as young as kindergarten already have a preconceived notion about math (Ceci et al., 2014), such as it is too difficult or girls are not 'smart enough' to be successful. By the time some of these girls enter middle school, it can be challenging to change their mindset. Therefore, we need to focus not only on the causes of the under-representation of women in STEM careers but also solutions to recruitment and retention of women in these careers. Although there are many reasons for pursuing STEM, such as building compassion, empathy, and developing different perspectives (Zeidlet et al., 2016), this body of research focuses mainly on STEM careers. The first paper in this body of work addresses the effectiveness of intervention programs within schools determined by an increase in female's interest in taking math courses, math GPA scores, and self-efficacy. The second paper describes the GUESS (Girls Understanding and Exploring STEM Stuff) project and measures this specific intervention program's effectiveness on females' interest in STEM. The final paper looks at the GUESS project as a model and measures the effectiveness of this model in a nontraditional setting, welding.