Daily Sexism Experienced by Women in STEM Majors: Incidence and Relations to Belonging, Interest, and Intentions

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Daily Sexism Experienced by Women in STEM Majors: Incidence and Relations to Belonging, Interest, and Intentions

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


The purpose of this observational longitudinal study was to assess everyday experiences of sexism in academic contexts among women who are interested in majoring in a physical science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (pSTEM) field. This study hypothesized that everyday comments and behaviors that communicate gender stereotypes and demeaning and exclusionary behavior based on gender would relate to women feeling less belonging in their major on a daily basis. Additionally, more sexist experiences over time would predict less interest in STEM and less intent to major in a STEM field. We recruited first year and sophomore undergraduate women (N = 282) interested in a pSTEM major for a daily assessment, measurement-burst longitudinal study of their academic experiences. STEM major belonging, interest, and intent were assessed at baseline half-way through the semester. Participants later completed 14 nightly surveys three weeks apart in the semester that assessed if they experienced or personally witnessed 13 different sexist events within the context of their classes or professional development. Participants were assessed again at the beginning of the following semester. Many (67%) reported at least one sexist event over the two weeks surveyed, with an average of one-to-two sexist events per week. The most common events were demeaning and exclusionary behavior, and women identified that these frequently came from male classmates, friends, and peers within the school and classroom context. Results from multilevel modeling confirmed the hypotheses and found that on days women reported gender stereotyping and demeaning treatment they felt less belonging in their major. Sexist experiences did not predict STEM interest and major intentions the following semester as hypothesized, especially after controlling for relevant variables in a path analysis. However, more belonging did predict later interests and intentions. Overall these findings suggest that sexism remains frequent in STEM fields and relates to less belonging, and belonging itself may be an important predictor for later academic engagement. Daily social support predicted more major belonging and may be a protective factor for women in the face of sexist experiences. Other relevant factors to sexism in STEM are discussed, including individual differences in women’s expectations to encounter sexism and implications for educators and researchers.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2020. Major: Psychology. Advisor: Patricia Frazier. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 84 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Baker, Majel. (2020). Daily Sexism Experienced by Women in STEM Majors: Incidence and Relations to Belonging, Interest, and Intentions. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/216800.

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.