minority faculty. Of more than 1,600 faculty at the 50 departments studied, only 22 were Hispanic and 18 were African American. Each of these minority groups constitutes about 1 percent of the total faculty, although African Americans and Hispanics earned 2.4 and 3.0 percent, respectively, of the Ph.D. degrees awarded in chemistry over the preceding decade. The numbers for Native Americans are even lower, with this group earning only 0.4 percent of the Ph.D. degrees awarded in chemistry.5,6

The workshop “Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work” was organized to explore how the chemical science community could respond to this challenge. Of the workshop’s three sessions, the first was a general overview that examined why diversity is important for the chemical science community and how and where the value is added. The second session looked at the pipeline issue beginning at the undergraduate level through graduate school. Are there lessons to be learned from successful pipeline producers that can be replicated at other universities to increase the number from the pipeline? The third session focused on successful activities in industry to attract and retain minorities to the chemical workforce. Are there valuable lessons that universities could learn from industry? In addition to presentations by invited speakers, there were discussions within breakout groups focusing on whether there are opportunities for change and, if so, what they are.

CONTEXT AND OVERVIEW

Clifton Poodry (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) opened the session with a presentation on the importance of diversity and why it has been an important agenda item for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1998, the Clinton administration set forth a national goal to eliminate long-standing disparities in health that affect racial and minority groups. In the process of addressing this goal, several important questions were raised. As related by Dr. Poodry, these are “Why focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who are trained as biomedical researchers? Can the problems of health disparities not be solved as well by people of any ethnicity? Does representation matter?” Two observations made the NIH feel that representation matters. In the field of health, when experts are from nonminority groups, there is reluctance for minorities to participate in research or clinical trials that could lead to new treatments for these groups. Moreover, the presence of a significant number of minorities in a field often increases its legitimacy, as well as increases the value of its work in the perception of the public. These observations provided the motivation for the NIH to develop a talent pool of underrepresented minorities, while not denying opportunities to nonminorities. Dr. Poodry described two key elements for success in increasing the pool of talented underrepresented minorities that the National Institute of General Medical Sciences has discovered through its minority programs: to devise programs that focus on outcomes rather than individuals and to assist educational institutions in preparing and graduating increased numbers of minority students.

Sylvia Hurtado (University of Michigan) addressed the issue of preparing students for a diverse democracy. Dr. Hurtado noted that in the workplace, organizations find that managing diversity is becoming increasingly important. In the business world, working groups that have more diverse perspectives and diverse people exhibit greater creativity. As a result, there is less “groupthink,” and different viewpoints emerge—including the nature of the questions asked. In the context of preparing students, Dr. Hurtado raised the questions of what cognitive and social skills are needed, and can these

5  

Nelson, D.J. The Nelson Diversity Surveys. Norman, OK, 2002 (http://cheminfo.chem.ou.edu/faculty/djn/diversity/top50.html).

6  

Chemical & Engineering News, June 4, 2001, 79(23):67.



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