Arts and Sciences, College of


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Document Type



McQuillan J, Hill PW, Jochman J, Kelly G. 2023. Decline is not inevitable: Changes in science identity during the progression through a U.S. middle school among boys and girls. Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 9:1-16. DOI: 10.1177/23780231231152195.


Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC


In the United States, science capital is important for navigating many aspects of life. Yet during middle school, science interest declines more for girls than boys. It is unclear, however, whether science identity also declines during the middle school years and if there are differences by gender. The authors advance prior research by modeling changes in science identity and associations with changes in identity-relevant characteristics using growth curve analyses on four waves of data from 760 middle school youth. For girls and boys, science identity changes over time; about 40 percent of the variance is within-person change, with the remainder explained by aggregate between-person differences. The associations of all identity-relevant characteristics with science identity are not significantly different for girls and boys, yet declines in average values of identity-relevant characteristics are larger for girls than boys.