Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Swanson, Jane


This study investigated the academic self-efficacy and persistence goals of 72 diverse female Engineering majors. Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) coupled with Practice Theory (Bourdieu, 1998) and Social Capital Theory (Lin, 1999) served as the theoretical framework. The relationships between social cognitive variables (engineering self-efficacy, outcome expectations, interests) as well as the influence of contextual and cultural variables (perceived campus climate, distance from privilege, and access to resources) on female students' intent to persist in Engineering were examined. Hierarchical linear regression revealed that only outcome expectations significantly contributed to the prediction of female students' intent to persist in Engineering. Exploratory analysis revealed that outcome expectations were most influential in predicting Engineering self-efficacy. Including privilege and perception of campus climate into the model significantly predicted self-efficacy above and beyond the original SCCT variables. This study supports the addition of cultural contextual variables in the SCCT choice model and warrants future research with minority female populations. Key words: women in STEM, social cognitive career theory, privilege, persistence, underrepresented students




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