Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychological Science (MSPS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth R. Brown

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Leone


Previous research has examined why some US students, Black, Latinx, and women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). However, at least 7.1% lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals live in the US, so what about the LGBTQ community pursuing STEM? We know that STEM careers are stereotypically seen as agentic and masculine instead of communal and feminine although LGBTQ individuals desire community within STEM and want to express their femininity. The current study examines how perceived communal opportunities in STEM and feminine gender expression are related to feelings of belonging and motivation to pursue STEM. Across a sample of university students (Study 1) and a sample of participants recruited through MTurk (Study 2), we found that LGBTQ individuals and non-LGBTQ women expressed less belonging in STEM than non-LGBTQ men (Study 1, 2). Further, LGBTQ individuals who were more open about their identity expressed more belonging in STEM (Study 1). Path analysis models show the relationships between communal opportunities, femininity, expectations for success in STEM, belonging in STEM, and motivation to pursue STEM. We found that LGBTQ individuals' femininity (Study 1) was negatively while communal opportunities (Study 2) were positively related to belonging in STEM; further, belonging in STEM positively predicted motivation to pursue STEM (Study 1, 2). Uniquely for non-LGBTQ women, perceived communal opportunities (Study 1, 2) were positively and femininity (Study 2) was negatively related to expectations for success in STEM; expectations for success in STEM positively predicted motivation to pursue STEM (Study 1). We discuss the importance of integrating more communion and femininity into STEM to bolster LGBTQ individuals pursuing STEM.