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Bayer Facts of Science Education Survey XV

December 7, 2011

STEMConnector™ would like to congratulate Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense program for their extraordinary findings in this year’s Bayer Fact of Science Education Survey XV.
Bayer Corporation surveyed 413 faculty from 200 research universities who chair STEM Departments.  This is the 15th such survey conducted by the company, and the 5th to focus on the under-representation of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians in many U.S. STEM fields.  Perhaps most interestingly, the Survey found that University STEM Department chairs find Women undergraduates are most prepared for completing STEM degrees.  The Survey also tackles the issue of  tough introductory courses aimed at “weeding out” individuals from pursuing STEM careers and its effect on women and underrepresented minority groups:

Specifically, the chairs say being discouraged from a STEM career is still an issue today for both female and underrepresented minority (URM) STEM undergraduate students (59%) and that traditional approaches that “weed out” students early on from STEM studies are generally harmful and more so to URM (56%) and female (27%) students compared to majority students (i.e. Caucasian and Asian males).  Yet, a majority (57%) of the chairs do not see a need to significantly change their introductory instructional methods in order to retain more STEM students, including women and URMs.

Here are some other major findings from the survey:
  • For URMs, many colleges are just average: More than one-third (37 percent) give their institution a “C” or below for retaining and graduating URMs.
  • University leadership must act: An overwhelming 84 percent of the STEM department chairs believe the issue of recruiting and retaining women and URM STEM undergraduates is important to their institution’s chancellor/president and seven-in-10 (69 percent) say the issue has reached a point where it needs to be addressed by the highest institutional leadership, including trustees and regents, presidents, provosts, deans and department chairs.
  • Most institutions don’t have a STEM diversity plan: Only one-third (33 percent) report their colleges have in place a comprehensive STEM diversity plan with recruitment and retention goals.
  • More student academic support is needed: 71 percent believe their STEM departments need to significantly increase the academic support they provide STEM students, including women and URMs, in order to retain more of them.
  • Low recognition of stereotypes as a barrier: While a significant number of the chairs acknowledge the persistent stereotype that says STEM isn’t for girls/minorities is a barrier for female STEM students (13 percent), almost none (3 percent) recognize this as an obstacle for URMs.
  • URMs seen as least poised for college STEM success: The chairs say URMs arrive at college the least well prepared academically to study and graduate with STEM degrees.
  • And, a significant one-third (33 percent) say their URM students, given similar academic preparation as their other majority students, are less likely to graduate with STEM degrees.
  • Few URMs to graduate with STEM degrees this year: Most – eight-in-10 – STEM department chairs report underrepresentation of URM students in both introductory (77 percent) and upper/major (83 percent) level STEM courses and say only 16 percent of the STEM degrees their departments will grant this year will be to URMs.
  • Fewer females than males to graduate with STEM degrees this year: While roughly two-thirds report no female underrepresentation in STEM introductory (64 percent) and upper/major (60 percent) courses, they also say their departments will grant more STEM degrees to males (59 percent) than females (42 percent) this year.
Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) is a program of the Bayer Corporation, and it is a company-wide initiative that advances science literacy across the United States through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.
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