You are herePublications / Underrepresented Students Entering STEM Fields

Underrepresented Students Entering STEM Fields

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Association for the Study of Higher Education (2008)



This study will examine the factors that determine the choice of initial college major of first-
time women, minorities, and low-income undergraduate students at a large, research-intensive,
public university in fall 1999. Of interest is the selection into a STEM (science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics) major and, of particular interest, whether these factors are common
across all types of STEM and non-STEM majors. The use of an expanded taxonomy of STEM
majors demonstrate that underrepresented students participate at higher rates in science-oriented
fields rather than more prestigious STEM fields as compared to their participation using a more
narrow definition of STEM. Nested logistic regression is used to estimate key factors considered in
this study. The results of this study will contribute to institutional effectiveness by identifying
possible admittance patterns and/or impediments to educational and diversity goals. Policy
improvements are offered based on the results to satisfy both these goals.