School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Judy Shoemaker


Career Choice, Education, Secondary Teachers, STEM, Teaching, Women


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Other Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to investigate, identify, and describe the lived experiences that influence female STEM majors to become secondary educators rather than enter a STEM-related corporate profession. This study was guided by Mezirow’s transformative learning theory (TLT) and Lent, Brown and Hackett’s social cognitive career theory (SCCT) as they related to self-awareness, which guides and motivates the behaviors involved in choosing a career path. The research questions for this study were designed to investigate the experiences that prompted females to major in STEM majors and to enter the field of teaching rather than enter corporate employment. The 12 secondary teachers from two districts completed a screening survey, a questionnaire, participated in a face-to-face interview, and wrote in a reflective journal. The data were analyzed for recurring key meaningful statements and themes. Three significant themes and eight relevant sub-themes emerged from the perceptions of the participants regarding how they made their final career decision. For the first theme of approaching a corporate career, participants were either unable to find a corporate job, or the schedule flexibility of becoming an educator was more appealing than the schedule requirements offered in a corporate position; however, more practicum programs may have enticed them to still pursue a STEM career. For the second theme, participants indicated sensing a calling to teach, to inspire and empower students. For the third theme, participants reported their early experiences, in grade school, college, and with their parents, influenced their career choices.