This study investigates how Native American men and women differentially negotiate cultural expectations as well as social support structures to persist in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines.We hypothesize that Native American cultural roles may intersect with perceived gender roles to either enhance or undermine student’s persistence in STEM disciplines. We further hypothesize that Native American men and women differentially interact with formal and informal support structures in a university setting and may benefit from different specific interventions in pursuing STEM careers. Our project has two aims:
Aim 1: Investigate how the gendered experiences of Native American men and women influence their persistence in STEM disciplines.
Aim 2: Investigate how specific formal and informal support structures differentially benefit Native American men and Native American women in STEM disciplines.
We follow Native American men and women in STEM majors at 2 institutions, Montana State University and Northern Arizona University, and perform in-depth interviews with several of these students. We will examine the differential impact across gender of social support structures, informal academic support structures, and formal academic support program and of the persistence of these students in STEM, with the goal of identifying the specific structures that lead to Native American student persistence in STEM. We utilize a mixed-method, longitudinal approach of quantitative analysis using well-validated instruments, and qualitative analysis of open-ended survey responses and in-depth interviews