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STEM, STEAM, art integration, female, gender gap


S. Cheng


A. White




In China, there have traditionally been two streams of education in college: STEM and liberal arts. However, some tertiary institutions have introduced a third option—STEAM—that integrates arts into STEM as supplemental practice. Given that this is a recent approach, it remains unclear how this new model shapes female students’ engagement in STEM and the effects that STEAM has on their performance in STEM fields. To gain insights into this phenomenon, focus group discussion and one-on-one interviews were conducted to collect individual experience and in-depth perspectives to explore the influence that STEAM-based instruction has on females’ interest in, self-confidence in, and attitude towards STEM fields. The participants were all recruited from Xi’an, a city in Shaanxi province that is located in northwestern China and consist of eight female students and four instructors from an engineering college, as well as three staff members from an engineering company. Based on the significant gender gap in STEM fields, the study likewise discusses factors that may impact female students’ pursuit in traditional STEM fields with the aim of determining if STEAM programs can reduce female students’ inhibitions related to STEM in post-secondary education in China. The study provides recommendations for STEM curriculums with the potential to encourage female students to feel more comfortable and confident in enrolling in STEM programs and inspires educators and employers to appreciate STEAM as an innovative approach to assist STEM inclined females to excel. These can hopefully help address the current gender gap and prompt comprehensive development in STEM domains.

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