Investigating the challenges faced by female students in STEM courses: case study of a traditional South African University
Keywords:Social Cognitive Career Theory, Female students in STEM, University education, Outcome expectancy
The paper investigated the challenges faced by female students enrolled in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field of study. The social cognitive theory (SCCT) was employed to examine the role played by the environment, goals, behaviour, and self-efficacy factors of female students studying towards Engineering and Information Technology degrees at a traditional South African university. The study examined the interdependencies between these four factors and their role in female students’ success in STEM courses at the university. The finding revealed that female students possess the selfefficacy required to excel in their studies, despite overt or covert hostilities and other challenges they face during their study. The data analysis indicate that female students need the support of their families in achieving their goals. The fear of disappointing parents or family members if they fail to obtain their qualifications seem to be a key motivation to female students in STEM courses. It is recommended that all stakeholders be positively involved in ensuring that female students in the STEM fields get the needed support. Such support, in tandem with their self-efficacy, outcome expectations and goal setting, will ensure that they overcome obstacles and are adequately equipped to realise their dream of achieving qualifications in this critical segment of the economy.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Olutoyin Olaitan, Nosipho Mavuso
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