Panel Paper: Understanding the STEM Pipeline

Thursday, November 6, 2014 : 1:00 PM
Galisteo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Tim Sass, Georgia State University
This paper seeks to understand the factors that affect the likelihood of obtaining a baccalaureate degree with a major in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).  I investigate the determinants of high school completion and college attendance, as well as the probability of earning a degree in a STEM field conditional on attending college.  The focus is on women and minorities, who tend to be underrepresented in STEM fields.  Tracking four cohorts of students throughout Florida, thus far I find that large differences in math achievement across racial lines exist as early as elementary school and persist through high school.  These achievement differences lead to higher drop-out rates in high school and a reduced probability of attending college.  Conditional on attending college, black students are less likely than whites or Asians to graduate with a major in a STEM field.  However, when family income is taken into account the black-white STEM degree gap disappears.  In contrast, women perform nearly as well as men on math achievement tests through high school, are more likely to finish high school and attend college than males.  Among college students, however, women are much less likely than men to earn a degree in a STEM field, even after adjusting for prior test scores.  Additional analyses will include an investigation of the role that teacher-student gender and racial matching at middle school, high school and college plays in the likelihood a student majors in a STEM field and ultimately receives a degree in a STEM field.