Title

Influences of Women Teaching Mathematics Related Fields in Higher Education in Mexico and Texas

Date of Degree

12-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Jessica Kimmel

Advisor

Absael Antelo

Advisor

Paul Messina

Advisor

Judith Beauford

Abstract

This study examined the factors that most influenced women in Texas and Mexico to teach mathematics, and how these motivational factors relate in the two countries. By correlating two different country settings, the research provides a better comprehension of the causes of gender inequity that exist in the field of mathematics and in STEM fields.

Women's representation remains low in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), both in the United States and abroad. In the United States, gender differences in attitudes and interests begin in middle school. Representation of women at the college level varies by field and ethnicity. In higher education professions, the percentage of women in STEM fields continues to decline. Even though women earn almost half of mathematics bachelor's degrees, they earn only 27% of mathematics doctoral degrees in the U.S. (National Science Foundation, 2008). Additionally, in Mexico, female students accounted for only 24.19%) from the total number of engineering students applying to the program in a Mexican university (Peppino, 2006). Several factors contribute to women's underrepresentation in STEM fields: gender differences in learning; self-efficacy; motivational factors, such as family, role models, and teachers; and sociological factors, such as education level, socioeconomic status, and school environment. This study examined the factors that most influenced women in Texas and Mexico to teach mathematics, and how these motivational factors relate in the two countries. By correlating two different country settings, the research provides a better comprehension of the causes of gender inequity that exist in the field of mathematics and in STEM fields. This study surveyed 185 female mathematics professors in higher education or related fields, investigating how two settings, Texas and Mexico, relate in factors that influence persistence in teaching mathematics or a related field in higher education. These factors were examined with descriptive analysis. The most influential factor was passion for teaching in Texas and Mexico. A Chi-square indicated a significant association between motivators that influence women to teach mathematics or a related field, and country. A Logistic Regression was also performed to investigate how well the independent variable motivators (family/parents, faculty peers, friends, teachers, role models, and other) predict or explain country of residence for women teaching mathematics or a related field in Texas and Mexico. This indicated that Texas respondents were over 5 times more likely who had friends and role models as a motivator than respondents from Mexico. In addition, Texas is 3 times more likely to report family/parent as a motivator than in Mexico. Finally, Texas is 2 times more likely to report teachers as a motivator than in Mexico.

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