Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Keith Howard

Second Advisor

Nicol Howard

Third Advisor

Ryan Allen


The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which motivational and persistence factors predict the occupational career choices of underrepresented students in their pursuit of a STEM career. Data selected from the High School Longitudinal Study beginning with the base year through the fourth wave were employed in a large-scale multinomial regression analysis. Anticipated STEM occupation at the age of 30 was examined across six years of complex survey data using multiple taxonometric definitions. Social Cognitive Career Theory provided the theoretical framework for defining relevant factors affecting this STEM pursuit construct. The findings from the study suggest that by varying student perspectives on their expected STEM careers, the resulting pathway of pursuit is affected by a different set of predictors. Typographic models developed through fitting multinomial logistic regression models also suggest that female students are propelled into specific STEM careers through early mathematics identity, mid-study science utility, and an evolving dynamic between parent and student expectations. The results additionally highlight race and ethnicity differences which more closely, though less significantly, mirror those of female students. The overall results of these findings raise questions about the continued use of a STEM pipeline metaphor in describing student pursuit. Moreover, adjacent policies, theoretical frameworks, and research methods aligned to this construct should be reviewed on how they portray an inaccurate picture of pursuit amongst underrepresented students seeking STEM careers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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