Sadan Kulturel-Konak Mary Lou D’Allegro Sarah Dickinson

Abstract

Women have made great strides in baccalaureate degree obtainment, out numbering men by over 230,000 conferred baccalaureate degrees in 2008. However, the proportion of earned degrees for women in some of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses continues to lag behind male baccalaureate completions (National Science Foundation, 2010). In addition, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), only 21% of information and computer science degrees were awarded to women in 2006 (NCWIT, 2007). In the past decade, higher education has experienced a rapid decline in the number of women involved in the information sciences, particularly computer science (Bank, 2007). A number of social and educational factors have been considered barriers to women entering STEM fields and this area has been well studied in the literature. However, research examining the relationship between gender differences and learning styles in the context of these technical fields is limited. According to Kolb (1976), people decide on a major based on how well the norms of the major fit with their individual learning styles. This paper presents gender differences in learning styles and recommends teaching methodologies most preferred for female learners in STEM courses. Further, a survey was administered to ascertain the extent the results of this study support previous findings.