concerned about is the use of the term minorities. I think I would like to challenge everybody to start thinking about moving away from that terminology.
To give you an example of my concern, we went to a group meeting at NSF to discuss working on issues to get more underrepresented persons into the pipeline in chemistry. In the meeting, some people were very vehement about what we are doing for the disabled. This group is underrepresented in some areas. I want to challenge us to use the term “underrepresented groups” in the workplace. The government, in its census, identifies about five or six categories of people that it tries to track, and Asians are in that category. We use underrepresented groups or underrepresented minorities because Asians are not underrepresented in the workplace even though their percentage in the population is small. However, they are underrepresented in the Chemistry Division at the NSF just as white males are underrepresented in certain administrative functions.
I think the use of the term underrepresented groups is quite a bit better, but we are probably not ready to start using this terminology especially in this workshop. We need to be more specific in trying to identify who are truly minorities. We have developed a lot of programs for women, and when you look at African Americans and women, they have one thing in common. For women, the bias is sexual, they cannot change their sex, and for African Americans, the bias is skin color and they cannot change their skin color. Some of the other minorities—Hispanics, Asians, and other groups—can leave behind the cause of much of the bias they receive (language, for example).
I think we ought to start looking at underrepresented groups and try to get people into those areas where they are underrepresented. I think the term minority is something that we might want to move away from in the future.