Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Higher Education Leadership

First Advisor

Bettyjo Bouchey


The lack of women entering certain STEM fields impacts female representation in research faculty, teacher faculty, and leadership positions in higher education. Through a narrative inquiry methodology utilizing the theoretical paradigms of self-determination theory and relational autonomy, this study extended understanding of the factors that motivate persistence for women in certain STEM fields. While prior research focused on understanding the barriers to retention, this study sought to identify the factors motivating retention for women in certain STEM fields. The results of this study contribute to understanding the motivating factors that influence a woman’s persistence in STEM. The data gathered from this study suggest that relationships, especially with a female mentor, are a significant factor motivating the persistence of women in STEM. This aligns with the concepts of relational autonomy, which posits that constructive relationships are necessary for autonomy to flourish in one’s life.