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Graduate Student Socialization In Science And Engineering: A Study Of Underrepresented Minorities' Experiences

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Recruiting and Building Diversity

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.646.1 - 9.646.13

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Paper Authors

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Nancy Horvath

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Cecilia Lucero

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session No. 2492

Graduate Student Socialization in Science and Engineering: A Study of Underrepresented Minorities’ Experiences

Cecilia Lucero, Ph.D. The National GEM Consortium


Since the early 1970s, when the underrepresentation of females and U.S. racial/ethnic groups in the engineering professions became an exigent national concern, academia, industry, and government agencies have undertaken practices that have improved the participation of minority groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This improvement, however, has been questionable. Recently, for example, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson has pointed to “a quiet crisis building in the United States”--the declining production of American scientific and technical talent “that could jeopardize the nation’s pre-eminence and well-being.” 1 Left unchecked, “it could reverse the global leadership Americans currently enjoy.”2 Among the priorities and actions that Jackson argues for is to nurture the graduate education of underrepresented groups, who must become an integral part of the U.S. technical workforce and may serve as role models for younger generations.

Overall, the status of students in graduate science and engineering programs has been discouraging. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics3 show that from 1993 to 2000 the total graduate enrollment in degree-granting institutions in all disciplines increased by 9.5 percent. In contrast, graduate enrollment in science and engineering dropped consecutively from 1993 to 1998. There were slight increases in engineering enrollment in 1999 and 2000; total engineering enrollment in 2000, however, was still nearly 11 percent less than engineering enrollment in 1993. While there was consistency or increases in enrollment in earth sciences, computer sciences, and biological sciences, enrollment in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemistry, physics) also dropped consecutively from 1992 to 1998, increase slightly in 1999, and dropped again in 2000 (amounting to 14 percent less enrollment than in 1992). Mathematics enrollment declined throughout the 1992-2000 period, with 2000 enrollment reflecting a 23 percent drop from 1992.

While total graduate enrollment in science and engineering fell, current National Science Foundation4 data show that the numbers of minority graduate students in science and engineering have increased since 1990. However, a large percentage of these African American, Hispanic, and American Indian S&E graduate students (more than 50 percent) were in the social and behavioral sciences compared to White students (39 percent) and Asian students (20 percent) in these disciplines. With regard to doctoral degree attainment, of the 17,428 doctorates earned in

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Horvath, N., & Lucero, C. (2004, June), Graduate Student Socialization In Science And Engineering: A Study Of Underrepresented Minorities' Experiences Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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