Pursuit of STEM: Factors Influencing Minority Student Entrance and Persistence


  • Yolanda Arciniega University of California-Los Angeles, USA
  • Mellisa Holtzman Ball State University, USA




STEM, minority students, higher education


Continual underrepresentation of racial/ethnic and female students in STEM has spurred research on the factors that inhibit and support their entrance and persistence in the field. Although informative, prior studies are limited by their focus on undergraduate students and by their tendency to examine the isolated, rather than interactive, effects of individual-, interpersonal-, institutional-, and societal-level factors. Thus, this study relies on interview data from 18 minority and/or female graduate students in STEM to explore how individual-, interpersonal-, institutional-, and societal-level factors interact with one another to influence the students’ STEM entrance and persistence. Findings suggest there are important interactive effects, but they differ for STEM entrance and STEM persistence. Implications for racial/ethnic diversity and female representation in STEM are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Yolanda Arciniega, University of California-Los Angeles, USA

YOLANDA ARCINIEGA is a PhD student in the Higher Education and Organizational Change program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests focus on the sociology of education as it relates to underrepresentation within STEM and to the inequities encountered by racial/ethnic minority students in higher education. Email: yolandaarci@g.ucla.edu.

Mellisa Holtzman, Ball State University, USA

MELLISA HOLTZMAN is a Professor of Sociology at Ball State University. Her research interests are centered on family, sex, gender, and sexual assault prevention. She also has a strong interest in curricular design, pedagogical innovation, and SoTL research. Email: mkholtzman@bsu.edu.


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