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Is a Computer Science Degree the Golden Ticket? Effects of Race, Place, and Degree Institution on First Job Outcomes in Texas

  • Author(s): Chow, Tiffany Yu
  • Advisor(s): Charles, Maria
  • et al.
Abstract

Research and policy efforts to increase the racial diversity of STEM fields have focused on how to prime the educational pipeline through interventions in schools and universities. This thesis focuses on recent college graduates who have successfully cleared a key hurdle and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I use original survey data from three public universities across Texas to determine whether there are differences in first job outcomes between Hispanic and non-Hispanic computer scientists on the elite tech labor market. I find that university attended is the most consistent predictor of labor market success. Differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics in job outcomes are mostly attributable to the concentration of Hispanic computer science degree holders in a non-elite, geographically peripheral university. Controlling for university attended, Hispanics are as likely to work in a prestige tech hub and in a core software job as their white and Asian peers; however, they earn lower wages. In addition, results suggest a positive association between geographic mobility, higher earnings, and the likelihood of working in desirable, degree-related jobs. Results suggest that a closer inspection of segregational mechanisms at the post-secondary level is needed to fully understand its effects on elite job opportunities. Although a degree in computer science can provide a ticket to one of the most lucrative occupational fields in Texas, racial stratification within this field occurs early in the career and likely translates into long-lasting socioeconomic inequalities.

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