Report Roundup

The 'STEM' Pipeline

"Steady as She Goes? Three Generations of Students Through the Science and Engineering Pipeline"

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Despite popular opinion, the flow of qualified mathematics and science students through the American education pipeline is strong—except among high-achievers, who appear to be defecting to other college majors and fields.

That is the provocative conclusion of a study Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader released last week, which disputes the idea, voiced by many policymakers and others, that students are leaving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, called STEM, because they lack preparation or ability.

The authors, B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University in Washington and Harold Salzman of New Jerseys Rutgers University, analyzed several longitudinal data sets and found that overall retention in STEM majors and careers remained robust among three generations of students studied from the 1970s through the past decade, with the exception of those in the top tier. Elite students may regard non-STEM fields, such as finance, as more stable or prestigious, the authors speculate; or they may enter related jobs that are not officially categorized as STEM. Their findings are consistent with their previous research, which found that schools produce a sufficient amount of STEM talent, but that much of it is lost in graduate studies and the workforce.

Vol. 29, Issue 10, Page 5

Published in Print: November 4, 2009, as The 'Stem' Pipeline
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories