Newfound Racial Parity in Choice and Completion of Science, Math and Engineering Majors

Jill Bowdon, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Past research has documented a racial gap in choice and completion of science, math, and engineering (SME) majors, with Blacks and Hispanics being less likely than Whites to do either. However, much of this prior research is dated or methodologically suspect because researchers confounded educational persistence with persistence in SME fields. I avoid this type of conflation by using weighted multivariate logistic regressions to measure racial differences in: (1) intention to major in an SME field in high school, given persistence to the senior year, (2) choice of an SME major, given entrance into college, and (3) completion of a bachelor’s degree with an SME major, given college graduation. In contrast to prior research, I find that underrepresented minorities are either equal to Whites or relatively advantaged for all outcomes, especially after controlling for prior academic achievement and preparation.

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Presented in Poster Session 1