Popular ideas about retention in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) suggest that women and minorities are at the greatest risk for dropping out or switching majors. However, recent data show that Latinos/Latinas who matriculate into engineering persist at the same rates as their White counterparts. Still, few college-bound Latinos and Latinas choose engineering education as a pathway; some researchers have argued that engineering has an exclusionary culture. Here we disaggregate engineering from the larger STEM category, argue that the larger issue for Latinos/Latinas in engineering is recruitment not retention, and offer strategies for reaching Latino youth.
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This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a Research on Gender in Science and Engineering collaborative grant (0734085 & 0734062). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.