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CGS Report Highlights Completion Trends of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Doctoral Programs

June 29, 2015 Comments off

CGS Report Highlights Completion Trends of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Doctoral Programs
Source: Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) today released findings from the Doctoral Initiative on Minority Attrition and Completion (DIMAC), a 3-year study that examined patterns of degree completion and attrition among underrepresented minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF #1138814), the project collected data from doctoral students at twenty-one universities in the United States, including universities affiliated with NSF’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program.

The most recent project in a series of CGS research studies on doctoral completion trends, DIMAC has resulted in the most comprehensive account of STEM doctoral completion and attrition for underrepresented minorities (URM) in the U.S. In the context of the study, URM includes U.S. students and permanent residents who self-identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African-American, and Hispanic/Latino.

The DIMAC report provides completion rates, attrition rates, times-to-degree and times-to-attrition of URM STEM doctoral students using data spanning academic years 1992/93 to 2011/12. There is some data to suggest that from the earliest cohort to the most recent, there have been slight improvements in completion outcomes.

A key finding of the data on student completion rates is that completion outcomes vary by student characteristics, with some of the most notable differences emerging in the analysis of race/ethnicity and field of study. Over a ten-year period, 54% of students completed a doctorate. Looking at ten-year completion data by student characteristics,

  • doctoral students in the life sciences completed at 63%, while candidates in physical &mathematical sciences experienced a rate of 45%.
  • Hispanic/Latinos completed at a rate of 58%, while Black/African Americans completed at a rate of50%.
  • women completed at a rate of 56%, while the ten-year completion rate for men was 52%.
  • ten-year completion was 57% for students with a prior master’s degree, and 52% for those withouta master’s.

Quantifying Hope: Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Quantifying Hope: Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys
Source: BMAfunders (Open Society Foundations and Foundation Center)

Quantifying Hope: Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys analyzes U.S. funding trends for Black men and boys and describes recent initiatives in the field of Black male achievement.

Following up on the analysis in Where Do We Go From Here? Philanthropic Support for Black Men and Boys, the 2015 research brief shows a distinct trend toward increased U.S. foundation funding for organizations and programs that are working to improve the life outcomes of Black males.

Gender Gaps in Overestimation of Math Performance

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Gender Gaps in Overestimation of Math Performance
Source: Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

In the United States, men are more likely to pursue math-intense STEM courses and careers than women. This investigation explored whether positivity bias in the degree to which people overestimate their past performance contributes to this gender gap. To find out, two studies were conducted with undergraduate college students in the Southern United States. In Study 1, participants (n = 122) completed a math test and estimated the percent they had solved. They then were given feedback and completed a second math test and estimation. Men overestimated their performance more than women, judging they had done better on the test than they actually had. This gender difference was not present after feedback. Further, women, but not men, who reported a more positive previous experience with math were more likely to overestimate their performance. In Study 2, participants (n = 184) completed a math test and estimated the percent they had solved. They also reported their interest in pursuing math courses and careers. Again, men overestimated their performance more than women. This greater overestimation of performance in men accounted for their greater intent to pursue math fields compared to women. The findings suggest that gender gaps in STEM fields are not necessarily the result of women underestimating their abilities, but rather may be due to men overestimating their abilities.

High Commissioner’s report to the Human Righ Council on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identit

June 26, 2015 Comments off

High Commissioner’s report to the Human Rights Council on discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (PDF)
Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

In recent years, Governments in all regions have pursued a variety of initiatives aimed at reducing levels of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, since 2011, 14 States have adopted or strengthened antidiscrimination and hate crime laws, extending protection on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity and, in two cases, also introducing legal protections for intersex persons. Three States have abolished criminal sanctions for homosexuality; 12 have introduced marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples nationally; and 10 have introduced reforms that, to varying degrees, make it easier for transgender persons to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity.

In dozens of countries, police, judges, prison guards, medical staff and teachers are receiving gender and sexuality sensitivity training, anti-bullying programmes have been launched in schools, and shelters have been built to house homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. Popular television programmes have integrated LGBT characters in a positive way and celebrities have helped to raise awareness by “coming out” as LGBT persons themselves or speaking out in support of members of the LGBT community. In all regions, LGBT and intersex3 human rights defenders are more vocal and visible – in several cases successfully challenging in the courts attempts by authorities to restrict their legitimate activities.

While these advances are welcome, they are overshadowed by continuing, serious and widespread human rights violations perpetrated, too often with impunity, against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Supporting and Promoting the Well-Being of LGBTQ Youth

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Supporting and Promoting the Well-Being of LGBTQ Youth
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway
From e-mail:

National LGBTQ Pride Month reminds us all to work against prejudice and toward a safer and equal society for all, including LGBTQ youth and families involved in child welfare. There are approximately 166,000 youth ages 10–18 in foster care in the United States. Of these youth, an estimated 5–10 percent—and likely more—identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). Additionally, more LGBTQ individuals and couples are choosing to grow their families through adoption.

In honor of Pride Month, we are pointing to our publications geared toward helping LGBTQ youth involved with child welfare and LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families interested in adoption.

Sex differences in preferences for humor: A replication, modification, and extension

June 18, 2015 Comments off

Sex differences in preferences for humor: A replication, modification, and extension
Source: Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary-minded scientists have proposed that humor is a sexually selected trait in men that signals mate quality. Indeed, women tend to prefer men who make them laugh and men tend to prefer women who laugh at their jokes. However, it is unclear how robust this pattern is. Here we report a replication of one of the first studies (Bressler, Martin, and Balshine, 2006) to examine the sex differences in preferences for humor receptivity versus humor production. We replicate Bressler et al.’s (2006) findings that men prefer women who are receptive to their humor whereas women prefer men who produce humor. These findings held even after we modified Bressler et al.’s questionnaire for better conceptual validity. Furthermore, using a separate measure designed to assess trade-offs, we found that men viewed humor receptivity as a necessity and humor production as a luxury when they were asked to create an ideal long-term partner. For women, it was just the opposite. These results bolster the claim that sexual selection has shaped sex differences regarding preferences for a prospective mate’s sense of humor and that what one means by “sense of humor” can vary.

Female peers in small work groups enhance women’s motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in engineering

June 13, 2015 Comments off

Female peers in small work groups enhance women’s motivation, verbal participation, and career aspirations in engineering
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are critical to the American economy and require a robust workforce. The scarcity of women in this workforce is a well-recognized problem, but data-driven solutions to this problem are less common. We provide experimental evidence showing that gender composition of small groups in engineering has a substantial impact on undergraduate women’s persistence. Women participate more actively in engineering groups when members are mostly female vs. mostly male or in equal gender proportions. Women feel less anxious in female-majority groups vs. minority groups, especially as first-year students. Gender-parity groups are less effective than female-majority groups in promoting verbal participation. Female peers protect women’s confidence and engineering career aspirations despite masculine stereotypes about engineering.

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