Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Peggy Wozniak

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Larick

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Harley


Purpose:The purpose of this mixed-methods research study is to identify and describe the barriers and supports that PLTW female students encounter when pursuing a non-traditional female STEM degree upon graduation from high school.

Methodology:A mixed-method (qualitative-quantitative) research design was chosen for this study to explore barriers and supports of female high-school seniors in PLTW. The qualitative portion of the study was phenomenology. This study explored the supports and barriers of female high-school seniors in PLTW courses when choosing a college degree. The quantitative portion of the study was conducted via a hard-copy survey containing closed-ended five-point Likert scale questions. The survey was administered to all 113 PLTW female senior students in the Antelope Valley. The survey was administered to students in their PLTW classes with their PLTW teacher present.

Findings:Examination of mixed-methods data from the two school districts participating in the study gave rise to a variety of findings. First, gender biases were found in the classroom and at home. Secondly, a lack of female mentors and role models contributed to the gender biases. PLTW classes give females the confidence to become engineers and are female-inclusive. The class inspired the females, educated them on new career choices, and showed them how they could impact the world with engineering. The PLTW teachers are supportive of the students’ college degree choices. Females found the PLTW course difficult. Finally, females were concerned about how to pay for their college education.

Conclusions: The study supported the premise that PLTW is a fundamental component of promoting STEM college degrees among female students, and that the class is female-inclusive and a supportive environment. However, there continues to be a lack of self-confidence and perceived gender biases among the females.

Recommendations: Further research is recommended to offer solutions to eliminate gender biases and support females in the PLTW courses.