Diversity in Science

Mismatch reduces minority STEM success

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 49-50
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6281.49-e

A policy aimed at increasing the enrollment of minority undergraduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) majors actually hurt overall minority representation in STEM. Arcidiacono et al. studied all students who enrolled at any University of California campus from 1995 to 1997, when race was a factor in admissions. Many minority students were admitted to STEM majors at the most competitive campuses, such as Berkeley and Los Angeles, despite high-school grades and test scores that were better aligned with those of incoming students at less competitive campuses, such as Santa Cruz and Riverside. Switches to non-STEM majors and failures to graduate, particularly among minorities that were underprepared for the most competitive campuses, could have been minimized had school admissions been better matched to precollege preparation, boosting overall minority representation among STEM graduates.

Am. Econ. Rev. 106, 525 (2016).

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