Bressoud starts with the encouraging news in the STEM fields–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In the past fifteen years, colleges have seen a 33% increase in students in these majors. However, those numbers may be dominated by particularly large increases in Biology and Psychology.
As a mathematician, Bressoud is interested in math-intensive majors, and so he looks more closely at mathematics, engineering, and physical sciences. As total college enrollments and STEM majors have increased, these math-intensive majors attract a consistent percentage of students. In fact, Bressoud notes that this percentage has been stable for the past 30 years, as math-intensive degrees have shown no growth as a percentage of overall college degrees.
This is curious, given the increasingly quantitative nature of modern society, industry, and academia. Are greater percentages of students in other countries pursuing such degrees? Or do we only need 0.5% of our college students studying math-intensive fields?