Filipinos among Asian Americans less likely to major in science, tech fields
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Filipino students are nearly 60% less likely to major in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields than other Asian American students, according to a State University of New York at Buffalo study.
The research on disparities in the STEM pipeline and college selectivity rates among Asian Americans also found that Filipino, Vietnamese and Thai students scored lower on average in 12th grade math courses than other Asian American students.
Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan students were the most likely to enroll in highly selective universities.
The findings, published in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, stress the need for higher education policymakers, administrators and instructors in the U.S. to see the disparities and make sustainable reforms, according to a university press release.
“While it is the case that Asian Americans are overrepresented in STEM fields relative to other non-white groups, the question remains, who are these Asian Americans who are overrepresented?” says Lois Weis, PhD, co-author and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy.
Other investigators in the UB Graduate School of Education include first author Chungseo Kang, PhD, postdoctoral researcher; and Seong Won Han, PhD, associate professor of educational leadership and policy.
Debunking the academic excellence myth
Asian Americans include more than 20 different ethnic subgroups but are often misrepresented as a homogenous racial group, says Jo.
The study analyzed the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2009 High School Longitudinal Study’s on the achievements of more than 26,000 students during high school and through eight years after graduation.
Asian American students included in the study were categorized into five ethnic subgroups: Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and Thai, Indian and Sri Lankan, and Korean and Japanese.
Student academic performance was measured by 12th grade math scores, and college major selection was examined across both 4-year and 2-year colleges.
- Filipino students were nearly 60% less likely to choose a STEM major than other Asian American subgroups;
- Female Asian American students were 46% less likely to major in STEM than their male counterparts;
- Vietnamese and Thai students were more likely to choose a STEM major when enrolled at a 2-year college, and those odds dramatically decreased when they enrolled at a 4-year school;
- Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan students were more likely to enroll in highly selective 4-year colleges than other Asian American subgroups;
- Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Korean and Japanese students earned, on average, higher 12th-grade math scores than Filipino, Vietnamese and Thai students.
“The analysis debunks the widespread perspective that Asian American students have uniformly high academic performance,” says Kang.