Factors that influence STEM-Promising females’ decision to attend a non research-intensive undergraduate institution

  • Roxanne Greitz Miller Chapman University
  • Ashley J. Hurlock Westridge School for Girls, Pasadena, CA, USA
Keywords: undergraduate university choice, STEM education, females, gender effects


Non research-intensive institutions of higher education have been demonstrated as effective at narrowing STEM gender gaps in major selection and persistence to degree completion, yet the decision to attend such as setting is likely seen as counterintuitive when such institutions typically have lower levels of research, financial resources, and total student enrollments in the sciences. This case study identifies institutional factors reported by ‘STEM-Promising’ females, defined as females who completed at least one Advanced Placement (A.P) STEM course in high school, as influencing their decision to attend their non research-intensive undergraduate institution. Using a quantitative, cross-sectional research design and original survey, 23 of 45 factors were reported to influence college choice. Significant differences between STEM and non-STEM majors were noted in the influence of undergraduate research opportunities, faculty reputation, graduate/professional school admission, presence of academic support/tutoring, and graduate program available at the institution. For STEM majors also admitted to research-intensive universities, only university size and average class size at the non research-intensive institution were reported as superior to the research-intensive. Additional non research-intensive undergraduate institutions are encouraged to repeat this study at their own institutions and tailor their institutional marketing and admissions materials to reduce the STEM gender gap.

Author Biographies

Roxanne Greitz Miller, Chapman University
Roxanne Greitz Miller is the Donna Ford Attallah Endowed Professor in Teacher Education in the College of Educational Studies, Chapman University, Orange, California, USA.
Ashley J. Hurlock, Westridge School for Girls, Pasadena, CA, USA
Ashley J. Hurlock is a science teacher at Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, California, USA.