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American Universities in a Global Market$
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Charles T. Clotfelter

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226110448

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226110455.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

Major Choices in Budding Scientists

(p.69) 2 To Be or Not to Be
American Universities in a Global Market

Eric Bettinger

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on an earlier point in the pipeline of scientists and engineers—specifically, the development of scientists and engineers in undergraduate studies. As the labor market models underscore, the decision to become a scientist or engineer largely starts when students enter their undergraduate study and choose their major. The chapter presents a number of frameworks that may shed light on students' major choices and the perceived shortage of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals. The focus is extensively on how relative earnings have changed in different professions. The chapter presents new data showing that many of the brightest undergraduate students, who are arguably the most prepared to pursue graduate studies in STEM fields, are systematically moving away from the hard sciences into fields where earnings might be 5 to 15 percent higher. Finally, it examines how women and minorities choose STEM fields. The trends for women and minorities seem to be opposite to those of the overall profession.

Keywords:   scientists, engineers, STEM fields, labor market models, minorities

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