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Researchers Study Disparities in STEM Career Aspirations for ­nderrepresented Students

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Researchers are studying the disparities in STEM career aspirations among high school students from different backgrounds.

The University of Texas San Antonio's Guan Saw has measured disparities and changes in career aspirations in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields among high school students in collaboration with Texas A&M University's Chi-Ning Chang and Hsun-Yu Chan. They sought to define the sociodemographic gaps in these aspirations by analyzing a longitudinal study from the National Center for Education Statistics. They estimated that in the United States about 11.4% of students were interested in following a STEM career upon entering high school, which fell to 10% after three years. They also found traditionally underrepresented groups including women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and students of low socioeconomic status were less likely to maintain and cultivate an interest in STEM careers.

The researchers also learned that 17.9% of white males from a higher socioeconomic status aspired to STEM careers, versus 1.8% of black females from lower socioeconomic levels.

Their work is described in "Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Disparities in STEM Career Aspirations at the Intersection of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status," published in Educational Researcher.

From University of Texas San Antonio
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