Social and Systemic Influences on International Students’ Choice of a STEM Major

Authors

  • Shiva Jahani, Ph.D. University of Central Florida
  • Rebecca Soto University of Central Florida

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v14i3.6093

Keywords:

academic major, gender, financial aid, foreign students, higher education, international students, STEM

Abstract

Countless factors influence students’ educational and career choices. We examined potential impacts on international students’ choices to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) through the lens of Social Cognitive Theory (Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Using partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM), we analyzed the dataset with ten gender- and finance-related constructs as explanatory variables that impact the salience of various reasons for selecting a STEM major. Financial considerations and the availability of government-funded opportunities, women's lack of prominence in respondents' higher-education experiences and the availability of government-funded opportunities, and (a) job outlooks for women and the "chance to help others" and (b) women's lack of prominence in secondary education and the prospect of steady employment showed significant influence. These findings support the salience of financial concerns and gender-stereotyped, patriarchal culture influencing respondents to choose STEM majors for financial safety and/or egalitarianism.

Author Biographies

Shiva Jahani, Ph.D., University of Central Florida

Shiva Jahani, Ph.D., is a lecturer for the School of Teacher Education at the University of Central Florida's College of Community Innovation and Education in the United States. Her major research interests lie in the areas of Teacher Resiliency, Quality of Life, STEM, and Research Methodology.

Rebecca Soto, University of Central Florida

Rebecca Soto is a graduate student in the Applied Learning and Instruction Master of Arts program at the University of Central Florida's College of Community Innovation and Education in the United States. Her major research interests lie in the areas of educational psychology, mental and emotional health, and racial and gender equity.

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Published

2024-04-21

How to Cite

Shiva Jahani, Ph.D., & Rebecca Soto. (2024). Social and Systemic Influences on International Students’ Choice of a STEM Major. Journal of International Students, 14(3), 61–88. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v14i3.6093