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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02386

The Role of Social and Ability Belonging in Men and Women’s pSTEM Persistence

  • 1University of Colorado Boulder, United States
  • 2Other, United States

The benefits of belonging for academic performance and persistence have been examined primarily in terms of subjective perceptions of social belonging, but feeling ability belonging, or fit with one’s peers intellectually, is likely also important for academic success. This may particularly be the case in male-dominated fields, where inherent genius and natural talent are viewed as prerequisites for success. We tested the hypothesis that social and ability belonging each explain intentions to persist in physical science, technology, engineering, and math (pSTEM). We further explore whether women experience lower social and ability belonging than men on average in pSTEM, and whether belonging more strongly relates to intentions to persist for women. At three time points throughout a semester, we assessed undergraduate pSTEM majors enrolled in a foundational calculus or physics course. Women reported lower pSTEM ability belonging and self-efficacy than men, but higher identification with pSTEM. End of semester social belonging, ability belonging, and identification predicted intentions to persist in pSTEM, with a stronger relationship between social belonging and intentions to persist in pSTEM for women than men. These findings held after controlling for prior and current academic performance, as well as two conventional psychological predictors of academic success.

Keywords: pSTEM, stem, gender, social belonging, Ability belonging, Persistence, self-efficacy, IDENTIFICATION

Received: 21 Jun 2019; Accepted: 07 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Banchefsky, Lewis and Ito. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sarah Banchefsky, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, United States,