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'Belonging' Can Help Keep Talented Female Students in STEM Classes

'Belonging' Can Help Keep Talented Female Students in STEM Classes

Many women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have faced a common experience at some point during their college days -- they walked into a classroom and found that they were among a small handful of women in the class, or even the only one.

That kind of experience has the potential to make a talented, motivated student feel out-of-place, and compel her to search for more inclusive academic environments, according to Nilanjana Dasgupta, a psychology researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Questioning one's sense of "belonging" in an academic environment may contribute to why women are significantly under-represented in some areas of STEM.

Dasgupta's research, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), identifies interventions or remedies that universities and other organizations can employ to increase women's sense of belonging in STEM -- even in cases where they are a small minority in the classroom among male peers.

To read more about Dasgupta's research, please visit nsf.gov.