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Flowers Earns Doctorate from UA Little Rock

Erin Flowers
Erin Flowers

Dr. Erin Flowers, a well-known staff member in the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, is celebrating another milestone as she graduates with a Doctor of Education in higher education administration this semester.

“It feels surreal to be graduating after all this time,” Flowers said. “My youngest daughter was an infant when I started class, and now she’s in second grade. That is a very visual representation of the time I’ve been in school. I’m glad to finish my degree. I’ve gained a lot from the program. We learned things in the classroom that helped us be better in our job, and we did things in our job that contributed to our classroom experiences.”

As director of student services in the Donaghey College of STEM, Flowers oversees the college’s advising center, supervises the student ambassador and scholars programs, and coordinates events like the student organization fair and NERD Night.

Flowers is a two-time graduate of UA Little Rock, having earned a master’s degree in college student affairs in 2010. In 2016, Flowers joined UA Little Rock as an education counselor. Prior to joining UA Little Rock, she worked as a veteran services advisor at the University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College.

After working with STEM students as both a student advisor and staff member, Flowers said she was interested in learning more about nontraditional female college students who major in male-dominated fields.

“I’ve always been interested in major choice and how students end up in their major,” she said. “When I was an advisor in the former College of Engineering and Information Technology, I advised some women who were nontraditional students and coming into engineering. I just found them fascinating and inspiring. This is where the germ of the idea started. There is a lot of attention on women in male-dominated majors, but not specifically nontraditional women.”

In her dissertation, “The Major Choice Experience and Motivation of Women who are Nontraditional Students in Male Dominated Majors,” Flowers found that several important themes emerged during her interviews with these nontraditional female college students majoring in fields like engineering, computer science, and physics.

“One key finding of this study is that the major choice experience for women in male-dominated majors is one of learning and overcoming doubts about their abilities,” Flowers said. “Once they decide to major in something, they must reaffirm that decision over and over. The most discouragement these students receive is from their male classmates but identifying at least one woman in the major or career can be a crucial factor on their continued enrollment in the major. I learned that people who work at universities can be the main source of encouragement for these students.”

Since the nontraditional student population is on the rise, Flowers hopes that better understanding the experiences of nontraditional women majoring in male-dominated fields will help more women enter these fields.

Now that she is graduating, the Little Rock native is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Adam McEvoy, and daughters, Ellis Rose, 13, and Lillian Bay, 7.

“My daughters have been so excited, especially recently,” Flowers said. “Before, I don’t think they understood where I would go on Saturdays to work on my dissertation. They have jokingly called me Dr. Mama since I defended my dissertation. They’ve told all their friends and teachers, and they’ve been good encouragement as I’ve moved toward the end.”