Retaining females in STEM2D: A pilot study

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Kim, Jeawon
Roemer, Carina
Durl, James
David, Patricia
Rundle-Thiele, Sharyn
Pang, Bo
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This report for Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and Griffith University summarises the process and outcome evaluation of a pilot project aiming to retain female students in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design (STEM2D) courses. To meet the project’s overall aim, two program elements, namely, Program 1) active participation in a Bias Literacy Workshop (BLW) and Program 2) attention to a communications campaign (CC) were delivered and evaluated in early 2019. Informed by previous formative research, the objective of the BLW was to address gender bias and to promote self-efficacy (skills that can be applied by all that would assist to support women in STEM2D). Similarly, CC focused on increasing female students’ perceptions of social support, by raising awareness for existing supporting services. In Program 1, four Bias Literacy Workshop were delivered at the Nathan and Gold Coast Griffith University campuses and a total of 47 attendees participated in three-hour workshops held on 13th - 14th March 2019. Each workshop involved discussions of conscious and unconscious biases that discourage or actively prevent females from succeeding in their studies and the STEM2D workforce. The workshops successfully increased STEM2D students’ self-efficacy (confidence) and awareness. In Program 2, communication appeals featuring different message approaches were tested in a randomised study to determine which appeal would be most effective. Four electronic messages featuring hyperlinks to existing support services offered by Griffith University (GU) were emailed three times to 9,438 STEM2D students over four weeks from 4th - 25th of February 2019. Key GU services featured in the email message were the availability of social clubs, scholarships, Griffith Sciences Work integrated Learning (WiL) program, and bridging short courses. The communications campaign produced 6,008 unique email opens. Among all services, the social clubs were the most commonly opened link followed by scholarships, WiL program and the bridging short courses. In terms of the message framing effectiveness, positively framed poster messages successfully increased female STEM2D students perceived behavioural control (p <0.05). Both program elements, namely BLW and CC were effective in achieving the project objectives - increasing self-efficacy and perceived social support, and raising awareness for existing support services. Moving forward, tailored workshops for each field of study and integrated marketing communications to further raise awareness for support services is recommended over multiple Trimesters extending on pilot program element success.

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© 2019 Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies and Griffith University

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Specialist Studies in Education

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