ADDRESSING THE LEAKY PIPELINE: THE ROLE OF EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL DECISION-MAKERS

Date

2023-01-02

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Abstract

Admission to graduate school, a pathway to professional careers in many fields, has been comparatively elusive for minorities seeking to enter STEM fields. This research examines how external (graduate programs and administrations) and internal (graduate school applicants) decision-makers contribute to or mitigate the underrepresentation of minorities in academia. First, I use social role and lack of fit theory to explain why graduate programs and administrations may accept minorities, specifically Black and Hispanic applicants, at lower rates than White applicants. Second, using homophily theory, I investigate if this issue can be circumvented by the representation of minority students who are currently in the program. I propose that minority applicants are more likely to apply and attend a program as the representation of minority students in the program increases. In addition to this, I explore if homophily plays a stronger role in a minority’s decision to attend than apply- something that has not been examined in previous studies. I test these models using multilevel modeling and linear regression in R with data from 10,745 graduate school applications submitted to STEM programs at an R1 university between 2015 and 2020. I find that Black applicants are selected at a lower rate than White applicants. However, I do not find that the representation of current Black and Hispanic students predicts the representation of Black and Hispanic students in the following application pool and cohort. Based on my findings, I provide admission committees with practical solutions to address underrepresentation in graduate student cohorts.

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Keywords

Diversity, Admissions

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