ETS Study: Hispanics Advancing in Science and Engineering, but Many Obstacles Remain

HOUSTON—A new study from Educational Testing Service examines the prospects for increasing the proportion of Hispanic and other minority students in science and engineering and calls that task “as daunting as it is necessary.”

The good news is that the proportion of degrees awarded to Hispanics has been increasing over the decade, although Hispanics are still underrepresented in higher education as a whole. At the same time, however, the young Hispanic population has been growing at a faster rate than the general U.S. population, and this trend is expected to continue.

The net effect of these trends is that to maintain proportional representation, large increases in the number of Hispanics earning degrees will be needed. This progress comes at a time of potentially increasing employment opportunities in these fields as the economy expands and many baby-boomers retire.

Findings from Hispanics in Science and Engineering: A Matter of Assistance and Persistence were released today at Engineering Collaborations: Preparing Technical Talent For the Economic Upturn.

The report, written by Paul Barton and published by ETS’s Policy Information Center, aims to inform and guide efforts to find ways and means of raising the numbers of Hispanic students who are prepared to pursue college and graduate degrees and ultimately careers in science and engineering.

The report looks at the gains made by U.S. Hispanics in science and engineering education between 1991 and 2000, such as increases in bachelor’s degrees ranging from 33 percent in mathematics to 89 percent in physical science. The report also:

— Reviews the nation’s steady progress in increasing the number of students in the pipeline who are qualified to enter college and graduate education in science and engineering

— Discusses some challenges for further progress, from strengthening early childhood education and the school curriculum, to increasing the proportion of high-achieving Hispanics and other people of color in the education pipeline, to increasing the proportion of Hispanic and other minority college entrants who persist and graduate

— Provides information in greater depth and detail for those directly involved in education policy and practice, in programs to increase Hispanic representation, and in counseling and other programs that serve Hispanic youth.