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What Factors Affect Attitudes Toward Women in Science Held by High School Biology Students?


  • Editor's Note: Janice McCarty Terry's postal address is Shaw High School, Columbus, GA 31907. William E. Baird's postal address is Auburn University, 5040 Haley Center, Auburn, AL 36849–5212, and e-mail address is


To achieve the goal of science for all Americans, students of both genders must believe that careers in science are equally appropriate for women. Yet male and female students in high school science classes do not have the same views of women in science. This study investigated the influence of 17 factors on high school students' attitudes toward women in science. Data were collected from 844 students enrolled in biology classes in an urban school district in Georgia. Multiple regression determined that the 17 factors significantly influence students' attitudes toward women in science, accounting for 28% of common variance. The four most significant factors - student gender, science ability, level of education the student plans to complete, and career interest-accounted for 24.6% of total variance. Female students who have high science ability, plan to complete high levels of education, and who have career interests in science showed more favorable attitudes toward women in science. Males with low science ability, low levels of education they plan to complete, and no interest in science as a career had the least favorable attitudes toward women in science. Male students with less positive attitudes toward science careers for women need to be included in programs aimed at encouraging all students to consider science careers.