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Student Demographics

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According to NSF statistics, in 2010 just over 525,000 students graduated with Bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines and almost 144,000 of them (27.3%) were underrepresented minority students. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders collectively accounted for approximately 31.2% of the U.S. population in 2012. If these students were graduating in the same proportion to their share of the population, there would be almost 20,000 additional STEM graduates of color. The situation of minority students varies across degree type.

The fact that underrepresented minority students are actually not "underrepresented" in Associate's degree completion in the data from 2010 is a big win. In 2001, the percentage was 30.8, but the number of science and engineering degrees grew by almost 20,000 overall in that decade and minority students made up a larger percentage of that larger number of degrees.

The state of affairs at the Master's and PhD levels clearly indicates that more work needs to be done to help minority students pursue and be successful in attaining advanced degrees.

In the Geosciences

According to the same NSF statistics, of the roughly 525,000 students who graduated with Bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines, just under 4,000 were in geoscience (0.7%). Of these geoscience degrees, only about 550 were students from underrepresented minorities (0.2%). With these communities constituting 31.2% of the U.S. population in 2012, the number of URM geoscience graduates lags far behind at only 13.9% at the Bachelor's level. While it is a marked improvement over the 7% it was in 2002 (Baker, 2007), it shows how far there is still to go.

Broadening out to look at all degree levels, underrepresented minorities made up similar, low, proportions of geoscience graduates in 2010:

Again, these numbers represent improvement over the numbers from a decade before (4%, 7%, 6%, and 4% respectively), but leave much room for growth.

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