A longitudinal study of the educational and career trajectories of female participants of an urban informal science education program
The purpose of this longitudinal case study is to describe the educational trajectories of a sample of 152 young women from urban, low-income, single-parent families who participated in the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program during high school. Utilizing data drawn from program records, surveys, and interviews, this study also attempts to determine how the program affected the participants' educational and career choices to provide insight into the role informal science education programs play in increasing the participation of women and minorities in science, math, engineering, and technology (SMET)-related fields. Findings revealed 109 participants (93.16%) enrolled in a college program following high school completion. Careers in medical or health-related fields followed by careers in SMET emerged as the highest ranking career paths with 24 students (23.76%) and 21 students (20.79%), respectively, employed in or pursuing careers in these areas. The majority of participants perceived having staff to talk to, the job skills learned, and having the museum as a safe place to go as having influenced their educational and career decisions. These findings reflect the need for continued support of informal science education programs for urban girls and at-risk youth.
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