Journal of Undergraduate Research


in-class participation, performance gender gaps, biology courses, instructor


Life Sciences




It is well known that undergraduate women are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which includes the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (NSF 20011). However, the explanation for this phenomenon is not completely understood. Much research has been done recently and suggests that the “why?” is very complicated and multi-faceted (Smith 2012, Gayles 2014). Reasons can include female students’ sense of belonging, perception of ability, access to a positive mentor, and others (Smith 2012). While biology programs are unique in that female enrollment often exceeds that of males, gender inequities are still seen as postgraduates enter their careers (Handelsman et.al 2005). Because the discrepancies are not as obvious, differences in male/female achievement in biology courses are not as widely researched as those in other STEM disciplines. Because in-class participation has been shown to increase a student’s sense of belonging in a class and improve their achievement, differences in male and female in-class participation is also worth investigating (Eddy et.al 2014).

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