Acad. Building 202A
The gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) fields is palpable. From college freshman to graduate students to working scientists, women are underrepresented in STEM, and the gap widens at each step along way. A 2007 survey of first year college students found that male students were twice as likely to enter a STEM major as female students (29% vs 15%, respectively). Of those STEM freshman, 32% of females switched majors to a non-STEM field, compared to only 25% of males. When women were asked why they left the field, a frequent response was that they felt out of place in the classroom and in the department.
A lack of female peers and faculty may cause women in STEM to question their belonging in the field, but what can be done about it? This question has been explored most diligently in fields with the greatest dearth of women, specifically computer science and physics. A study measuring factors contributing to high school girls’ election to take physics courses found that the gender gap was related to the community makeup. If the community included women in STEM careers, girls were more likely to enroll in high school physics than in communities where women worked mainly in traditionally female occupations. The authors speculated that visibility of female role models in STEM careers could be a factor that motivated girls to explore science courses. Another report measured the impact of varying intervention strategies designed to increase the number of female computer science graduates at Carnegie Mellon University. Researchers found that providing opportunities for female computer science students to interact with each other and with female faculty helped students to see themselves in the field and encouraged them to stay in the major.
The Women’s Leadership Program (WLP) at GW contains within its curriculum an evening each week for students to interact with women in leadership positions, often discipline and cohort specific. We in the WLP believe that this interaction with successful women in STEM careers is a positive experience for the students of the Science, Health, & Medicine cohort. Furthermore, I predict that it may encourage these students to persist in STEM majors and to continue into STEM careers after college.
To explore this idea, my current research goals are to measure the rate of attrition of female STEM majors at GW, determine the factors that lead students to change majors, and compare the paths of WLP and non-WLP female STEM majors during the undergraduate years and beyond. If exposure to female role models is found to be a predictor of persistence in STEM, I hope to implement similar programs in interested STEM departments at GW and other academic institutions.
B.S., Biology, Virginia Tech, 2003
M.S., Biomedical & Veterinary Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2005
Graduate Certificate in University Teaching, University of Georgia, 2010
Ph.D., Cellular Biology, University of Georgia, 2011
C.N. Jordan. 2015. More Than Just a Cough: Exploring the Role of the Cytoskeleton in Fertility. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Online Collection. Accessible from: http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=788&id=788
C.N. Jordan, A.M. Seliga, and E.A. Flaherty. 2014. GTA Boot Camp: A training program to prepare first-time graduate student teaching assistants. Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Proceedings of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education. Vol 35.
C.N. Jordan, E. Flaherty, and J. Prather. 2014. A Curious Mission: An Analysis of Martian Molecules. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Online Collection. Accessible from: http://sciencecases.lib.buffalo.edu/cs/collection/detail.asp?case_id=720...
C.N. Jordan. 2012. LIFE 1010 General Biology Laboratory Manual. 1st Edition. Hayden-McNeill Publishing. Plymouth, MI.
M.E. Francia, C.N Jordan, J.D. Patel, L. Sheiner, J. Fellows, J. de Leon, N. Morrisette, J.F. Dubremetz, and B. Striepen. 2012. Cell division in apicomplexan parasites is organized by a homolog of the rootlet fiber of algal flagella. PLoS Biol 10(12): e1001444. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001444.
P. Brickman, C.L. Gormally, G.M. Francom, S.E. Jardeleza, V.G.W. Schutte, C.N. Jordan, and L. Kanizay. 2011. Media-savvy scientific literacy: Developing critical evaluation skills by investigating scientific claims. Am Biol Teach. 74(6): 374–379.