Date Capstone Completed


Document Type

Capstone Paper

Degree Name

Masters of Science in Leadership Education: Organizational Leadership


Leadership Education


Theresa Waterbury


Winona, Minnesota


The persisting disparity of young African American and Hispanic women in STEM disciplines has been a long-standing issue for education leaders, policymakers, and industry leaders. One way to address this issue is to explore the best strategies for building confidence in young African American and Hispanic women and increasing their self-efficacy at the high school level to pursue STEM disciplines. Community support, role models/mentors, and hands-on experiential learning are essential parts of the support and experience these young women of color (YWOC) need to feel confident in their abilities to succeed in STEM fields. This study identified the challenges young African American and Hispanic women faced when selecting a STEM discipline and identified the best strategies to overcome these challenges. An online survey and semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather the lived experiences of young African American and Hispanic women currently enrolled in a STEM discipline or working in a STEM field. The survey results and interview results demonstrated that parents' and teachers' involvement and continued support are essential to building young African American and Hispanic women's confidence to persist in STEM disciplines. Peer support played a significant role in developing STEM identity and self-efficacy. Additionally, hands-on experiential learning that ignites creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are also needed to persist in STEM disciplines. This study's findings are significant as they provide additional insights to existing data regarding the best strategies for promoting confidence and high self-efficacy in YWOC to pursue STEM opportunities.



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