News & AnalysisUNDERGRADUATE SCIENCE

Weed-Out Courses Hamper Diversity

Science  09 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6061, pp. 1333
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6061.1333

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Summary

The time-honored practice of using introductory courses to weed out students seeking degrees in science and engineering hinders efforts to attract more women and minorities into those fields, say the chairs of science departments at U.S. universities. But the professors see no need to change their approach to teaching. That contradiction appears in a survey by the Bayer Foundation, the 15th in its annual series on science education. More than 400 chairs from the top-200 research universities and from minority-serving institutions responded to a series of questions on their attitudes toward underrepresented minorities (African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans) and women. It's a follow-up to last year's survey asking those students about the obstacles they face in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees.