Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Impact of science faculty on women students leaving STEM majors

Alexis Schneider, James Madison University


This study focuses on how negative professor interactions with women in STEM majors at James Madison University (JMU) influenced the decision to leave a chosen STEM major. Six students, who self-identified as female, were interviewed regarding their initial choice of major and influences that led to their decision to leave a STEM major. This study highlights themes across these decisions. Parental influence and direct negative interactions with STEM faculty were the primary reasons for changing majors. The nature of the negative faculty interactions indicates the need for further research into the relationship between students and professors, particularly in the biology department at JMU. Findings from this study were used to develop a web resource for STEM faculty to develop more gender inclusive classrooms and lab spaces as well as to incorporate more inclusive practices in their roles as advisors.