The mental health of undergraduate women majoring in STEM

Dennis E. Reidy, Leila Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Women in STEM often experience gender-based micro-aggressions and harassment. This is particularly true in male-dominated STEM disciplines. Such victimizations may place women at heightened risk for psychopathology. Yet, there has been little research examining the mental health of women in STEM. We compare anxiety/depression, trauma symptoms, and suicide risk for women majoring in gender-balanced/unbalanced STEM compared to non-STEM disciplines at institutions of higher education (IHEs). Methods: Data were collected from undergraduate women (N = 318) at five IHEs in the U.S. Sampling was stratified by male-dominated STEM, gender-balanced STEM, male-dominated non-STEM, and gender-balanced non-STEM majors. Data were analyzed with fixed effects linear regression. Results: Contrary to expectation, women in male-dominated STEM did not report more trauma or psychopathology than their peers. However, women in gender-balanced STEM majors reported more anxiety/depression and trauma symptoms than non-STEM women and women in male-dominated STEM majors. Conclusions: These data suggest that matriculating into certain STEM fields may have an impact on women’s mental health. IHEs should ensure women in STEM are provided the structural supports to maintain their health, academic success, and professional trajectories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of American College Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Anxiety
  • depression
  • gender equality
  • STEM
  • trauma
  • Women in STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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