GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 217-9
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


LOCKWOOD, Rowan, Department of Geology, William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185, BAER, Eric, Geology, Highline College, MS-29-3, 2400 S 240th St, Des Moines, WA 98198, WHITE, Lisa, University of California at Berkeley Museum of Paleontology, 1101 Valley Life Sciences Bldg Spc 478, Berkeley, CA 94720-4781, VILLALOBOS, Joshua, Geological Sciences, El Paso Community College, 10700 Gateway East, El Paso, TX 79927, MORRIS, Vernon R., School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ 85281, MCDARIS, John, 1 North College St.Science Education Resource Center, 1 N College St, Northfield, MN 55057-4001, MACDONALD, Heather, Department of Geology, William & Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187 and BEANE, Rachel, PhD, Bowdoin CollegeEarth & Oceanographic Science, 6800 College Sta, Brunswick, ME 04011-8468

Although the Earth sciences have experienced a lack of progress on diversity at the doctoral level, the pattern at the undergraduate level is uneven, with some successes. This study quantifies diversity trends for undergraduate degrees awarded in the US in the past two decades, to determine how patterns differ by degree, race/ethnicity, and institution type. Data were compiled from 1998 – 2018 from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Undergraduate degrees, unlike doctoral degrees, have witnessed a significant increase in racial/ethnic representation (from 7-21%), particularly for students who identify as Hispanic/Latino. The percentage of Hispanic/Latino students completing undergraduate degrees in the Earth sciences has more than tripled since 1998. This increase is significant, even when accounting for increases in overall representation at undergraduate institutions across the US. In contrast, trends for other marginalized groups, including Black/African-Americans, remain static during this same period. Other populations, including Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native students, are so few in number (< 1%) that trends are difficult to interpret.

Two-year colleges, which tend to provide less expensive, more flexible options, graduate a higher diversity of students in the geosciences, although absolute numbers are low (approximately 1-2% of annual undergraduate degrees awarded). Among four-year institutions, 40% fail to graduate more than one student-of-color per year and 92% fail to graduate more than one student identifying as Black/African American per year. Students in these programs will likely find that they are the only one of their race or ethnicity in a class, which can limit students’ sense of belonging. Over the past five years, just 38 institutions were responsible for graduating half of Hispanic/Latino students, and 35 were responsible for graduating half of Black/African-American students. These 55 institutions in total include several minority-serving institutions in southern or southeastern states. Future research should explicitly explore intersectionalities among race, ethnicity, and other dimensions of diversity and assess the extent to which different approaches contribute to JEDI success in U.S. institutions.