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Abstract

Researchers indicate that the United States has fallen behind other nations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education (President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2010, 2012). A declining interest in the field of engineering as demonstrated by students who pursue degrees in STEM fields also threatens the U.S. competitive edge (National Science Foundation, 2013; Schneider, Judy, & Mazuca, 2012). Although some students perform successfully in STEM courses, an achievement gap between school-aged boys and girls is well-documented in the literature (e.g., College Board, 2007). Moreover, Hispanic students are underrepresented in science-related courses and careers (Hanley & Noblit, 2009) and even fewer Hispanic girls are attracted to the STEM areas despite the increase in the Hispanic population in general and in higher education (Dolan, 2009). In fact, few studies were located that addressed perspectives of Hispanic girls about their experiences and perceptions related to science and engineering (Crisp, Nora, & Taggart, 2009; Moller et al., 2015; O'Shea, Heilbronner, & Reis, 2010). Specifically, there is a need to attract girls and Hispanic students to mathematics and science coursework and careers. Therefore, the purpose of this collective case study was to explore and identify potential barriers and supports related to select Hispanic high school girls' decisions to pursue advanced coursework and future careers in STEM. By increasing awareness of these potential barriers, school leaders will be better positioned to develop strategies and support systems to encourage Hispanic girls to take advanced science courses and seek out postsecondary studies and careers in STEM fields.

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