Pathways v. Pipelines to Broadening Participation in the Stem Workforce
23 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2012
Date Written: January 13, 2012
Women and minorities are generally underrepresented in science research careers. To remedy the underrepresentation, policy makers have thus far crafted solutions based on what is known as the pipeline model which assumes a linear progression from high school to university to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. According to this model, women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM careers because they are underrepresented at various critical preparatory transition points on the pipeline from school to the workforce. Solutions have thus focused on increasing women and minority representation throughout the pipeline. To explore the validity of the pipeline model, we examine the change in racial/ethnic/gender distribution of the chemistry profession with respect to a) the effect of relative wages and b) the effect of changes in post-baccalaureate training. The pipeline explanation for the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields suggests that shortages from these groups arise from insufficient numbers of persons with requisite skills or advanced training. Increases in advanced training, then, ought to increase the representation of underrepresented groups. Our findings however suggest that supply side effects (advanced training) do not exert as strong an influence on reversing underrepresentation as demand-side effects (expected wages), suggesting that the pipeline model is inadequate for explaining minorities’ and women’s underrepresentation in STEM professions and raising doubt about the capability of current policy solutions to make real change.
Keywords: Pipelines, pathways, underrepresentation, chemistry profession, STEM majors
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation