Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters?
During college, many students switch from their planned major to another, particularly so when that planned major was in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) field. A worrying statistic shows that persistence in one of these majors is much lower for women and minorities, suggesting that this may be a leaky joint in the STEM pipeline for these two groups of students. This paper uses restricted-use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (NLSF) and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) to examine which factors contribute to persistence of all students in STEM field majors, and in particular the persistence of women and minorities. Although descriptive statistics show that a smaller percentage of women and minorities persist in a STEM field major as compared to male and non-minority students, regression analysis shows that differences in preparation and the educational experiences of these students explains much of the differences in persistence rates. Students at selective institutions with a large graduate to undergraduate student ratio and that devote a significant amount of spending to research have lower rates of persistence in STEM fields. A higher percentage of female and minority STEM field graduate students positively impacts on the persistence of female and minority students. However, there is little evidence that having a larger percentage of STEM field faculty members that are female increases the likelihood of persistence for women in STEM majors. These results suggest that the sorting of women and minorities into different types of undergraduate programs, as well as differences in their backgrounds have a significant impact on persistence rates.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010.
"Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144.
- Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2009. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 14959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.
- Kevin N. Rask & Elizabeth M. Bailey, 2002. "Are Faculty Role Models? Evidence from Major Choice in an Undergraduate Institution," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 99-124, June.
- Rask, Kevin & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 2008. "The role of grade sensitivity in explaining the gender imbalance in undergraduate economics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 676-687, December.
- John Ashworth & J. Lynne Evans, 2001. "Modeling Student Subject Choice at Secondary and Tertiary Level: A Cross-Section Study," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(4), pages 311-320, January. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)