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Lara Perez-Felkner

Associate Professor of Higher Education and Sociology, Florida State University
Chapter Member: Florida SSN

About Lara

Perez-Felkner's research uses developmental and sociological perspectives to examine how social contexts influence youths' college and career outcomes. She focuses on the mechanisms that shape entry into and persistence in institutions and fields in which they have traditionally been underrepresented. She investigates racial-ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic disparities in post-secondary educational attainment and entry to scientific career fields. She is a Student Experience Research Network (SERN) Mid-Career Fellow, Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies (ICQCM) NSF Scholar, and WT Grant Foundation FAMU-FSU Institutional Challenge Mid-Career Fellow.


No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Opinion: "The Key to Fixing the Gender Gap in Math and Science: Boost Women’s Confidence," Lara Perez-Felkner, The Conversation, November 27, 2018.
Opinion: "Harvard Case Could Represent the End of Race in College Admissions," Lara Perez-Felkner, The Conversation, October 23, 2018.
Quoted by in "Tech Smart: Bridging the Gender Gap in STEM Careers," WTXL Tallahassee, August 26, 2015.


"Perceived abilities or academic interests? Longitudinal high school science and mathematics effects on postsecondary STEM outcomes by gender and race" (with Teng Zhao). International Journal of STEM Education volume 9, no. 42 (2022).

Uses the most recent nationally representative U.S. cohort data on secondary school students and assesses the effects of students’ perceived mathematical and scientific abilities and interests on their STEM major choices. Perceives that math/science ability better predicts STEM major cluster choice as compared to interest, especially for men.

"Working Beyond Borders to Cultivate Knowledge and Support for Puerto Rican Colleges and Universities," Ashe Institute, 2021.

Elaborates on the history and strengths of postsecondary STEM education in Puerto Rico, current research on STEM education in Puerto Rico, and current research gaps. Offers several suggestions for how institutions may leverage existing programs to further P.R. students' STEM training.

"The Puzzling Relationship Between International Development and Gender Equity: The Case of STEM Postsecondary Education in Cambodia" (with John S. Felkner, Samantha Nix, and Melissa Magalhães). International Journal of Educational Development 72 (2020).

Mentions merging two sources of national data, we leverage provincial census figures and institutional administrative data to estimate women's enrollment share in STEM and related fields (i.e., accounting, information technology, and health). Discusses potential explanations and implications for gender and inequality in higher education.

"Basic Needs Insecurity among Doctoral Students: What It Looks Like and How to Address It" (with Jesse Randall Ford and Teng Zhao). About Campus: Enriching the Student Learning Experience 24 (2020).

Mentions future postsecondary faculty, researchers, scholars, and administrators are not insulated from hunger, debt, financial anxiety, nor the need for a secure place to sleep.

"Difficulty Orientations, Gender, and Race/Ethnicity: An Intersectional Analysis of Pathways to STEM Degrees" (with Samantha Nix). MDPI 8, no. 2 (2019): 43.

Uses nationally representative U.S. longitudinal data and measures gender and racial/ethnic variation in secondary students’ orientation towards mathematics difficulty. Shows notably black women have higher gains in predicted probability to declare a mathematics-intensive major than all other women, given their mathematics difficulty orientations.

"Affirmative Action Challenges Keep On Keeping On: Responding to Shifting Federal and State Policy" Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education 25, no. 1 (2018): 19-23.

Describes the legal and political history of affirmative action, the social justice and then diversity rationales, and the importance of state policies and institutions. Focuses on the responses of three highly diverse US states – Texas, California, and Florida – to postsecondary affirmative action bans affecting their public flagship institutions.

"Perceptions Matter: How Schools Can Enhance Underrepresented Students’ Resilience on the Rocky Path to College," Center for Postsecondary Success, September 2015.

Summarizes the results of a three-year mixed methods study examining variation in students’ educational pathways. Investigates that college-going among a predominantly low-income, underrepresented minority student population, detailed analysis shows distinctions in how students perceive relationships with school faculty and peers, which can serve as a mechanism to sustain their ambitions through the obstacles they encounter in high school and expect in college.