Jason Owen-Smith

Collaborative Research: New Insights into STEM Pathways: The Role of Peers, Networks, and Demand

Research Project Description
Jason Owen-Smith, Jake Fisher

The proposed project would integrate new, comprehensive administrative data for more than 113,000 doctoral students, with UMETRICS research data, information on fields of study and research, and restricted Census Bureau data that provides insight into career outcomes and demand. Data integration will occur under the umbrella of the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) and will contribute to the development of infrastructure to support responsible use of administrative data by researchers from around the country. The resulting dataset will support three integrated research projects that examine precisely how peer effects, network connections, and employer demand shape career outcomes for doctoral students with particular emphasis on female, URM, and non-native Ph.Ds. across all fields. Our key insight is that demand within and especially outside academia is often opaque to students who depend on peer groups and network connections to identify and evaluate career options. Access to such information, we propose, can have dramatic effects on the pathways and earnings of students as well as on the larger shape of the science and engineering workforce, net of actual measurable employer demand. However, informal routes to knowledge about labor market opportunities may exacerbate known disparities in training environments and outcomes for both STEM and non-STEM doctoral students.

National Science Foundation

Funding Period: 5/1/2018 to 4/30/2021

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