up the academic ladder. In 2007, as shown in Figure 2-1, underrepresented minorities made up 38.8 percent of K-12 public enrollment, 33.2 percent of the U.S college age population, 26.2 percent of undergraduate enrollment, and 17.7 percent of those earning science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. In graduate school, underrepresented minorities comprise 17.7 percent of overall enrollment but are awarded just 14.6 percent of S&E master’s degrees and a miniscule 5.4 percent of S&E doctorates.

These trends are seen in each underrepresented racial/ethnic group:

  • In 2006, Hispanic or Latino Americans comprised 15.0 percent of the U.S. population and 17.8 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. However, in 2005, they earned 7.9 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 6.2 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 5.2 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 2.9 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-U.S. citizens who are temporary visa holders).

  • In 2006, African Americans comprised 12.5 percent of the U.S. population and 14.1 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. However, in 2005, they earned 8.8 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 8.8 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 4.5 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 2.5 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-U.S. citizens who are temporary visa holders).

  • In 2004, Native Americans and Alaska Natives comprised 0.8 percent of the U.S. population and 1.0 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. In 2005, they earned 0.7 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 0.6 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 0.5 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 0.3 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-US citizens who are temporary visa holders).

All of these indicators point to underutilization in science and engineering fields of persons from these minority groups, with especially severe underproduction at the doctoral level.

TRACKING POSTSECONDARY INTEREST AND COMPLETION

Research on underproduction of minorities in science and engineering has focused on interest and persistence. In 2005, the American Council on Education (ACE), analyzing data from the 1990s collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that although the proportion of African American and Hispanic students who begin college with an inter-



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