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  5. Investigating the motivations of female students choosing an open versus named qualification

Investigating the motivations of female students choosing an open versus named qualification

Project leader(s): 
Elaine McPherson

The Combined STEM qualification team would like to better understand why students choose a STEM subject. It has been observed that a greater proportion of female students are choosing to register on R28 instead of a named STEM qualification, particularly in disciplines where the general female to male student ration is low (e.g. engineering). By understanding why the Combined STEM degree appears to be able to better attract female students than the named degrees, it is hoped that insights gained might be useful to improve gender balance further within STEM named qualifications.

This project will focus on L1 and Access students in STEM and will try to gather quantitative and, following that, qualitative data about what drives qualification choice and the differences that are perceived between R28 and a named qualification. A specific focus will be on the STEM Access module (Y033) and large level 1 STEM modules where there is a low female: male ratio: 

  • Engineering (KI module T192/T193) @15%
  • Computing (KI module TM111) X%
  • Science (KI module S111) X%

One question that we hope to answer is whether there is a link between participating in the STEM Access module and the choice of a named versus Open qualification (for example , previous scholarship has shown that Y033 gives students additional confidence, but does that make female students more or less likely to register on a named qualification and, if so, why?)

A second question is around why students entering without Access… transfer.

We see this initial investigation as the first stage in a deeper dive into the motivations and choices open to women in the world of STEM, specifically if the Combined STEM degree can be identified as a more attractive pathway for women into subjects and professions where they have previously been under-represented.

Elaine McPherson, Anactoria Clarke, Anne-Marie Gallen and Mary Keys poster (PDF)