Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work

Degree Level



School of Social Work


Goffnett, Jacob

Committee Member/Reader

Tyler, Susan

Committee Member/Second Reader

Robinson, Samantha

Committee Member/Third Reader

Davidson, Fiona


Despite an increase of females in higher education and the workforce, fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) continue to be male-dominated. One explanation for this trend is the lack of gender representation and counterstereotypical role models to encourage female engagement in these fields at the university level. Previous research has looked at instructor gender, classroom gender composition, and involvement in extracurricular activities as possible factors influencing students' engagement and success in the classroom. However, few studies have investigated how gender perceptions influence female students in STEM fields. This study uses self-report data from a voluntary survey to uncover the relationships between perceived instructor gender, classroom gender composition, departmental faculty gender composition, and female STEM students' engagement and success. Participants in this study identify as female, are enrolled in at least their second undergraduate year at the University of Arkansas, and belong to one of sixteen selected STEM majors. Self-report data is collected using a Qualtrics survey consisting of a variety of single-item assessments and standardized measures related to the students’ engagement, academic success, and gender perceptions. A significant relationship is found between having a female instructor and reported instructor-student rapport. A statistically strong relationship between perceived classroom gender composition and departmental faculty gender composition is found. Involvement in STEM extracurriculars is also found to be related to higher reports of classroom participation. These findings indicate that gender perceptions are important factors influencing how female students view and navigate their environments and increasing student involvement outside of the classroom may contribute to more female engagement in STEM fields.


gender representation, gender equity in STEM, role models, instructor-student rapport, classroom engagement, classroom participation