Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Dr. Mei-Lin Chang

First Committee Member

Dr. David Glassmeyer

Second Committee Member

Dr. Binyao Zheng


Gender disparities in specific science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) degrees are apparent in the United States’ higher education reports (e.g., National Science Committee on Science and Engineering indicators, 2014). There is a lack of understanding female STEM majors’ selection that can be addressed by personality, STEM interest (INT), STEM self-efficacy (SE), and mathematics anxiety (MA), and understanding the relationship between those factors. The purpose of the study was to describe, compare, and predict female STEM majors based on personal factors (i.e., INT, SE, MA, and personality) through the following strands: (a) to examine the association of female STEM majors’ personality and INT, SE, and MA, (b) to compare the personality traits between females non-STEM and STEM majors, and (c) to predict the likelihood of a female majoring in a STEM field based on her INT, SE, and MA. This research survey data was collected from 128 female undergraduate students, including STEM (n = 62) and non-STEM majors (n = 63). Instruments include the Big Five Inventory (John, Donahue, & Kentle, 1991; John, Naumann, & Soto, 2008), STEM items on the Basic Interest Markers (Liao, Armstrong, & Rounds, 2008), and Nauta’s (1997) adaptation of Lent, Brown, and Larkin’s (1986) Self-Efficacy for Academic Milestones Scale. Results revealed neuroticism was positively related to MA, and conscientiousness and agreeableness were negatively related to MA. SE predicted INT, MA, and majoring in STEM. Finally, the study found STEM majors were more open than non-STEM majors. This research has implications for identifying female STEM majors who may have MA, decreasing those students’ MA, and recruiting females who would be open to a STEM career.