Gender issues related to graduate student attrition in two science departments

This study explored the gender issues that contributed to the differential attrition rate of men and women graduate students in two science departments (biology and chemistry) at a large research university. Departmental records were used to compute the student attrition rate while surveys from 170 students, and interviews with 32 of them, were used to explore students’ perspectives on the reasons affecting the attrition of men and women graduate students in each department. Analysis of the data indicated a significantly larger student attrition rate in chemistry than in biology. In each department the attrition rate for women was also significantly larger than the attrition rate for men. The study uncovered different gender issues, in each department, related to the significantly larger attrition rate for women students.