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Science and Engineering Graduates: Career Advancement and Career Change

Grandy, Jerilee
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-91-14P, RR-98-31
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Blacks Career Change Career Choice Surveys Engineers Ethnic Groups Females Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Graduate Record Examinations Board Graduate Students Scientists


This project studied science and engineering (S/E) graduates who, after having been out of college some years, planned to return to graduate school either to advance their careers or to change careers. Two samples were studied. All were either applying to graduate school or had just begun graduate work. About 40% to engineers planned to change fields, and more than half of science graduates planned to switch. This great a loss of talent from the science/engineering talent pool motivated the second part of the study. The second part of this study consisted of a questionnaire survey of a stratified sample drawn from the 1991-92 GRE files of science and engineering graduate who had been out of college at least five years. Responses were obtained on 2201 (82% of the original sample). People changing fields, on average, were older and had been out of college longer. Field switching was more frequent for females than males, for African Americans more than other ethnic groups, and for graduates in biological sciences more than graduates in other fields. Correlates of field switching were studied, and differences by gender and ethnic group were noted. Gender was associated with many other variables, such as the importance of making a contribution to society. In a path analysis model using LISREL, the entire association between gender and continuation in S/E was accounted for by other variables.

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