Archive for September 8, 2010
A new article in the Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering (I didn’t even know such a journal existed!) claims that the location of the community college relates to women’s success in STEM disciplines. “In recent years, rural community colleges have done significantly better than their urban and suburban counterparts in the percentage increase of associate degrees awarded to women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.” The details show that the impact varies by subject matter (see below). The authors have no explanation for the phenomenon. I’m concerned that this is correlation of secondary variables. It can’t be that moving the community college from city to suburbs to country changes the education. Is it the kind of student that is being recruited? The interests and focus of the teachers? Does the curriculum respond to the community, so the location is influencing the curriculum?
“Why are suburban colleges currently involving greater percentages of women in their engineering and physical science programs, while rural colleges appear to do better with female participation in mathematics and statistics, and urban colleges seem to have the advantage in engineering technology, biological/biomedical sciences, and science technology?” write Hardy and Katsinas. “Might there be a connection between the mathematics programs and the need for K–12 math teachers in rural areas; between biomedical and engineering technology programs and the higher likelihood of securing internships, cooperative education experiences, and eventual related employment in urban centers with more medical and manufacturing facilities; or between engineering and physical science programs at suburban colleges and the kind of proactive academic advising and math/science enrichment programs that are generally more available to high school students — both girls and boys — at suburban high schools?”