Belonging Uncertainty of Women in Quantitative Fields Such as Math
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Belonging Uncertainty of Women in Quantitative Majors Such as Math
Belonging uncertainty occurs to people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and social status’. It is the feeling that one does not belong in an area or field. We concentrated on womens’ belonging uncertainty in a quantitative major, math. All over the world, there are women who have a desire to pursue majors such as science, engineering, technology, and math, but they are discouraged from doing so because of stereotypes that suggest that they do not have the capability to compete with men in those fields. Some research looked at minorities and their belonging uncertainty; others looked specifically at women and the factors in play which create belonging uncertainty for them in quantitative fields such as math.
Walton and Cohen (2007) investigated whether or not minority groups would be unsure of the friendships and social links they form, which in turn would affect their feelings of social belonging. In the experiment, Black students had difficulty listing 8 friends in the computer science major which prompted a negative sense of social fit in that major, while white students showed no similar effect. This implies that social belonging relates to whether or not an individual feels comfortable in the major they pursue, and whether they will be confident in recommending that major to someone similar to themselves (Walter & Cohen, 2007). A similar study conducted by Johnson (2012) was tailored to observe the effects of the college environment on Black women and their social belonging (Johnson, 2012).
Researcher Johnson (2012) focused on the college environment, and its effect on the sense of belonging that women, especially women of color, may lack. The results of this study demonstrated that race/ethnicity plays a major role in the sense of belonging that woman in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors experience. Also, preconceived perceptions of the college environment result in an overall sense of fit in the college (Johnson, 2012). Furthermore, those women who are in supportive residence halls have the strongest sense of belonging, perhaps because they are constantly guided and helped, but the study also showed that faculty and peer interactions do not significantly affect sense of belonging in students (Johnson, 2012). Some implications of this study are that women- only STEM programs can benefit women in general, but minorities in particular, and these kinds of programs should be studied and implemented to assure that women will get the help they need to succeed. The question that this study leaves unanswered, that Rosenthal, L., London, B., & Levy, S.R. (2011) answer, is: What explains this sense of belonging that women feel?
Rosenthal, L., London, B., & Levy, S.R. (2011) investigated two theoretically- guided predictors to...