Chapter 3:

The Undergraduate Experience in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering

Sources of Persistent Disparity

New research is beginning to identify reasons why more women, minorities, and persons with disabilities do not enroll in or receive bachelorís degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering. Astin and Sax (1996) cite the importance of role models, peer groups, curriculum and pedagogy, and faculty attitudes in the process of developing scientific talent in undergraduate women. Seymour and Hewitt (1997) have argued that problems arising from the nature of the undergraduate experience and the culture of the scientific or engineering discipline (for example, attitudes and practices of the faculty) at the undergraduate level have a significant impact on whether women and minorities stay in science, mathematics, and engineering or switch to other majors. Hanson (1997) found that pervasive gender discrimination still exists at all levels of education and that race and class have a significant impact on success in science.

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