Date of Award

Winter 2005

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Gail Taylor

Committee Member

Wendy Frazier


This qualitative program evaluation examines the career decision-making processes and career choices of nine, African American women who participated in the Cooperating Hampton Roads Organization for Minorities in Engineering (CHROME) and who graduated from urban, rural or suburban high schools in the year 2000. The CHROME program is a nonprofit, pre-college intervention program that encourages underrepresented minority and female students to enter science, technically related, engineering, and math (STEM) career fields. The study describes career choices and decisions made by each participant over a five-year period since high school graduation. Data was collected through an Annual Report, Post High School Questionnaires, Environmental Support Questionnaires, Career Choice Questionnaires, Senior Reports, and standardized open-ended interviews. Data was analyzed using a model based on Helen C. Farmer's Conceptual Models, John Ogbu's Caste Theory and Feminist Theory. The CHROME program, based on its stated goals and tenets, was also analyzed against study findings. Findings indicated that participants received very low levels of support from counselors and teachers to pursue STEM careers and high levels of support from parents and family, the CHROME program and financial backing. Findings of this study also indicated that the majority of CHROME alumna persisted in STEM careers. The most successful participants, in terms of undergraduate degree completion and occupational prestige, were the African American women who remained single, experienced no critical incidents, came from a middle class to upper middle class socioeconomic background, and did not have children.


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