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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v16.i1.20
pages 7-30

CHANGING STEM ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE PRODUCTION IN PUBLIC ASSOCIATE’S COLLEGES FROM 1985 TO 2005: EXPLORING INSTITUTIONAL TYPE, GENDER, AND FIELD OF STUDY

David E. Hardy
College of Education, The University of Alabama, USA
Stephen G. Katsinas
College of Education, The University of Alabama, USA

ABSTRACT

This paper explores differences in associate’s degree production in the STEM-related fields of engineering, engineering technology, biological/biomedical science, mathematics/statistics, physical sciences, and science technology at publicly controlled, stand-alone, rural-serving, suburban-serving, and urban-serving associate’s degree colleges in the United States, its territories, and its protectorates. The study compares production of STEM-related associate’s degrees in 2005−2006 with the number of associate’s degrees awarded in 1985−1986 and 1995−1996, and found that while increases have occurred in the past decade, the improvements that have been realized have still not brought STEM-related associate’s degree production back to the overall level of 20 years ago. This paper further explores the differences in STEM fields of study at community colleges by women and men, and confirms that despite being awarded the majority of all associate’s degrees at rural, suburban, and urban associate colleges, women are greatly underrepresented as the recipients of degrees in STEM disciplines. Specific data extracted from the NCES IPEDS system on institutional characteristics and enrollments, as well as completions by CIP code, and aggregated by gender, field of study, and institutional classification using the Carnegie 2005 Basic Classifications of associate’s degree colleges, is also presented for each STEM discipline included in the study. This paper concludes with a discussion of what the data might mean, and recommendations for future research and policy development related to women’s participation—and participation in general—in associate’s degree-level STEM education.