Ninety‐four winners of a highly prestigious American science talent search were followed longitudinally from the time they received the award in 1983 to the present. The subjects, 57 male and 37 female, were mailed a 20‐item questionnaire designed to monitor changes and consistencies in the values underlying decisions to pursue or not pursue science as a field of study, as an area of research and/or as a possible career. By 1988, 41% of the females and 12% of the males had dropped out of science. Based on the results of the questionnaire and follow‐up interviews those who have remained in the science track were more likely than those who dropped out to have been supported in their efforts to carry out research projects, given resources to engage in research, and provided mentoring at least equal to that provided during the high school years, including exposure to tacit knowledge needed to succeed in the world of scientific research.
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