Factors that Influence a Woman's Choice to Remain in or to Leave a Male-dominated Major

by Catron, Gail Satterfield

Abstract (Summary)
Grounded theory methods of Strauss and Corbin (1990) and multidimensional scaling techniques (Kruskal & Wish, 1991) were used in this investigation to study the factors that influence a womans choice to remain in or to leave a male-dominated major (Zuckerman, 1981). Focus group interviews were conducted with 62 sophomore women who had originally chosen male-dominated majors as freshmen to gain insight into the meanings and motivations of the student decisions. The participants responded to a 25-item survey which yielded a-three dimension solution with five clusters in the multidimensional scaling analysis. Five themes emerged from the focus groups as factors influencing a womans choice to remain in or to leave a male-dominated major: (a) self confidence and refuse to lose attitude; (b) interest in the field; (c) career goals, jobs, and money; (d) ability and experience in the field; and (e) the desire to make a difference. The three dimensions were (a) time of experience, (b) motivation, and (c) career rewards. The five clusters were: (a) pre-college experiences, (b) college experiences, (c) career rewards, (d) self-confidence, and (e) self-fulfillment. The findings are consistent with current literature; however, the use of the multidimensional procedure goes further and helps to explain some of the motivations of the students and challenges some of the beliefs that persons in the practice of student affairs profess about woman and chilly climate. The study extends knowledge about how women deal with their chilly environment.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Gerald McLaughlin; Jimmie Fortune; Don G. Creamer; Elizabeth Creamer; Gloria Bird

School:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

School Location:USA - Virginia

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:12/10/1997

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