A Study of Factors Which Impact Latina Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Lillian Gutierrez Rinchiera, Fordham University


The lack of homegrown talent in STEM fields has been a topic of intense debate and discussion in the United States for many years. STEM fields are essential to America’s economic growth and global competitiveness. But, in spite of this prioritization, the U.S. continues to fall behind other nations in the number of students pursuing STEM fields. Research shows that Hispanics constitute the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S.; however, Latinas and other minorities are underrepresented in STEM programs of study and the STEM workforce. The purpose of this qualitative study was to listen to the voices of 11 Latina students enrolled in high-level STEM courses at a low-needs, high-achieving suburban high school outside of New York City. Interviews with the participants and visits to their classroom visits were conducted. The goal was to understand how their perceptions influenced their choices to enroll in STEM courses and aspire to STEM careers. Six key interconnected themes were identified from the interview data collected. These are: (1) importance and influence of family—Latina identity, early stem exposure at home, family as role models, support for post-high school aspirations; (2) importance and influence of teachers—positive and negative experiences, academic self-efficacy; (3) STEM learning opportunities—early exposure at home, school experiences; (4) STEM aspirations—advanced high school courses, role models, careers; (5) perceptions of academic gender differences—self-perception, teacher perception, family perception; and (6) perceptions of bias experiences—ethnic and racial bias, gender bias, and intersectionality.

Subject Area

Education Policy|Science education

Recommended Citation

Gutierrez Rinchiera, Lillian, "A Study of Factors Which Impact Latina Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27961184.