Who’s Getting Pulled in Weed Out Courses for STEM majors?

Policymakers, researchers, and educators have long studied issues of representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Because these fields lead to occupations with high salaries and steady wage growth, understanding inequality among STEM majors has implications for labor market inequality and social inequality more broadly. Conversations about STEM majors frequently consider the role of “gatekeeping” and “weed-out” courses at the undergraduate level. These courses, typically the introductory sequence for STEM majors, are often difficult and time-consuming. Unfortunately, we know these weed-out courses do not weed out students evenly. There is a recent study conducted on the different experiences of first- and continuing-generation college students in their introductory STEM course sequences.