Thursday, February 24th
2-3PM via Zoom
What matters to students, and how do they see different career pathways as fulfilling what matters to them? Our research investigates how people perceive social roles as fulfilling their valued goals; examining these perceived affordances allows a deeper understanding of role entry, engagement, and exit. In this talk, I will explore women’s lower representation in certain STEM fields, relative to men and to other fields, through the lens of goal congruity. Gender roles emphasize communality for women, but STEM fields are consensually perceived as unlikely to afford communal goals such as pro-sociality or collaboration. These stereotypes about careers present both challenges and opportunities: When STEM activities integrate communal activities and purpose, individuals show greater interest, belonging, and engagement. Overall, science and engineering contexts that signal opportunities for both communal and agentic goals maximize flexibility and favorability. Considering the structural opportunities for individual goal pursuit provides a valuable vantage point to foster both broader participation and deeper engagement in STEM.