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Influences on the Choice of Math/Science Major by Gender and Ethnicity

Sue A. Maple and Frances K. Stage
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 28, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 37-60
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1162878
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Influences on the Choice of Math/Science Major by Gender and Ethnicity
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Abstract

Women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in quantitatively based fields of study. Additionally, selection by all students of such majors is declining. Math/Science major choice is of concern in light of the occupational demands created by advancing technology as well as the potential gaps in occupational and economic attainment of women and minorities. This article reports the analysis of a longitudinal model of math/science major choice upon entrance to college for black and white, female and male students. The model was tested using a sample drawn from the "High School and Beyond" data base. The model included background characteristics of students, ability, and an array of high school experience factors to explain choice of quantitative major. Significant predictors of major choice for the subgroups included sophomore choice of major, mathematics attitudes, math and science completed by senior year, and various parental factors. However, there were differences across groups and the model explained nearly twice as much variance for the black male, black female, and white male subgroups compared with the white female subgroup. Recommendations include broadening our ways of researching migration into and out of the mathematics/science pipeline. Argument is made for a focus on success of students enrolled in low level college mathematics classes as a way of augmenting the mathematics/scientific pipeline.

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