Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 189

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 188
U Maria Elena Zavala, President Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) INTRODUCTION Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are cor- nerstones for the future of this country. Current U.S. global economic and political dominance is based in great measure on the success of this country's investment in and development of technology. Inven- tion, technology development, and its transfer are part of the Ameri- can fabric. Advancements occur because people work to create a better tomorrow with their ideas. People are a natural resource that is often forgotten in the formula of success, and there are groups of our people who are most likely to be overlooked: Chicanos/Latinos, Native Americans, and African-Americans. We cannot afford the continued neglect and underutilization of a large and growing portion of our nation's citizens, especially now, at a time of heightened competition and global unrest. The science workforce shortages in our nation's recent past have been met by raiding other countries for their nearly mature to mature scien- tists. This has had many effects: it has allowed us to ignore significant problems of science preparation in our own educational system. It has limited job prospects for many Americans. It has caused a significant brain drain in less developed countries. This brain drain has serious negative consequences for less developed countries because it represents the loss of their investment in human capital, a loss of potential scientific leader- ship that is desperately needed in those countries, and the loss of teachers and scholars for the next generation (Bagla, 2002~. If global raiding has

OCR for page 188
caused a brain drain abroad, it has led to even more serious consequences for educational development within our nation. It is relatively easy for America to take well-trained or partially trained people from other countries to fill our scientific workforce needs. A ma- jority (63 percent; 34,930 out of 55,444) of recently awarded foreign Ph.D.'s (1988-1999) expects to stay in the United States (NSF 99-304~. Filling many of the positions in higher-education science careers and industry with for- eign students is a shortsighted lack of national policy that increases our national security risks while at the same time overlooking the human trea- sures here at home. Members of minority groups, especially Chicanos and Native Americans, are foremost among the forgotten here at home; they are the passed-over treasures rarely seen, heard, or valued. A recent study shows that, while minorities make up nearly 25 percent of the population of our nation (Delaker, 2001), Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, and African-Americans make up less than 6 percent of all our Ph.D.s in STEM (NSF 00-327~. Underrepresentation of these groups in the scientific enter- prise is a serious national problem with many factors contributing to this state. A skilled scientific workforce is critical to the progress and mainte- nance of our country's position in the world. Our purpose here is to arrive at a rational approach for developing our nation's scientific workforce. WHY WON'T AMERICANS BECOME SCIENTISTS? A recent report clearly shows that only women and minorities are showing increasing participation in science careers (NSB 02-01~. While we can see a positive increase in their participation, it is very clear that this increased participation does not fully match in numbers the loss of white males in the scientific workforce. It is not likely that a baby boom of white male children will suddenly emerge to fill the steadily increasing need for scientists. The usual pool from which scientists have been traditionally drawn is not expanding as fast as the need. The youngest, fastest-growing segment of the American population is Chicanos/Latinos (Delaker, 2001~. Chicanos/Latinos, Native Ameri- cans, and African-Americans represent an untapped and underdeveloped source to meet future workforce needs. How, then, can we as a nation accept the now pitiful underrepresentation of these groups in the scien- tific endeavor? One important caveat is that not all Latinos are equally underrepresented in science, although they are all underrepresented. Thus, studies that disaggregate "Hispanic" data are particularly useful for developing sound science policy (Quintana-Baker,2002~. For example, Puerto Ricans are about 10 percent of all Latinos but make up 29 percent of the Latino Ph.D.'s. In contrast, Mexican Americans/Chicanos make up

OCR for page 188
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT 59 percent of all "Hispanics" but only 24 percent of STEM Ph.D.'s (Quintata-Baker, 2002~. It is also not clear whether there is a difference in success of "Island" vs. "Mainland" Puerto Ricans in STEM. The level of participation in higher education of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans is about 10 percent of the 18-24-year-olds. This is com- pared to 25 percent for the same age bracket of whites. Part of this low representation of minorities in higher education is explained by the fact that Native Americans and Chicano/Latinos have high secondary school dropout rates, which essentially precludes them from higher education (Delaker, 2001~. However, if we look at those that do attend college we find that they are still underrepresented in science and technology majors (NSB, 02-01~. Underrepresented minority children are most likely to come from families with low educational attainment and low socioeconomic status (Delaker, 2001~. They are more likely to attend schools where the teachers are not well prepared to teach science and mathematics and/or who have few resources to enhance their teaching and learning. These children are at a significant disadvantage from the very start of their educational careers, and they continue to fall further behind. They are less likely to take college preparatory courses that would allow them to enter college and prepare them for college-level science and mathematics courses (College Board, 1999~. These minority students attend a more affordable school, such as a community college, before entering a four-year college or university. If they decide to continue in graduate school, they will often enter an M.S. pro- gram before making the commitment to a Ph.D. program. These educa- tional choices are often based on finances, family social constraints, a lack of academic preparation, and a fear of the unknown (since few of their family or friends may have gone to college). The educational choices these stu- dents make result in educational career paths that take between 12 and 14 years to complete, often far longer than those of more privileged students. When they finish the Ph.D. in a STEM discipline, they will work as a postdoctoral researcher for another two to five years. Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) continue to be the chief produc- ers of students who pursue advanced degrees in STEM (NSB 00-01; Borden, 2002~. Because STEM uses the apprenticeship model for training scientists it is important for these institutions to receive financial support for such activities. Comprehensive colleges and universities provide train- ing for K-12 teachers. It is critical that talented students are supported to become excellent teachers for our minority youth and that they take con- tent-rich courses to prepare them to teach our future scientists. Graduate school represents a difficult transition for all students. Intel- lectual independence is one of the goals of Ph.D. programs. Intellectual independence often comes with feelings of cultural and social isolation. While science and technology fields are objective in their methods, the

OCR for page 188
conduct of science, like all other endeavors, is completed in a social mi- lieu, and this social world in which the minority student is even more of a minority, means that the students may not know how to act. These stu- dents often lack "scientific cultural capital," and they may not know how to accrue it. Minority professional organizations and their members play an important role by serving as resources and role models for these stu- dents. However, all scientists, agencies, and corporations need to take an active role in developing scientists. To become scientists, minority students may have spent more than 24 years in pursuit of their science education. Minority students may gener- ally be more in debt than their white counterparts, face years as poorly paid postdoctoral researchers, remain uncertain of employment or ad- vancement in their field, and have a starting salary that will not allow them to participate in the American dream of homeownership. Finally, when they land their first "real" job they will earn less than their white or Asian counterparts (NSB 02-01~. Is it any wonder why there is a shortage of minority scientists? It has taken many years to establish systems that are excellent in fail- ing to educate our youngsters. We can expect that it will take at least that long to recover. We need multifaceted systemic approaches that will en- hance achievement and encourage excellence in students. WHAT IS SACNAS? SACNAS was started by a handful of Chicano and Native American scientists attending an American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in 1972. When they realized at that point in time that they represented all of the Chicanos and Native Americans with Ph.D.'s in the U.S., and that they could all fit in one elevator, they moved into action. SACNAS was incorporated in 1973. It is among the oldest and largest minority science societies in the country. It is a professional society with a student focus. The Society is dedicated to increasing the represen- tation of these underrepresented groups in science, to advocating for bet- ter opportunities for minority scientists in all facets of scientific endeav- ors, and to improving science education. SACNAS is a national, nonprofit, professional science organization striving to increase the numbers of Chicano/Latino and Native American Ph.D.'s in all science, mathematics, technology, and engineering disciplines. While the focus of the Society is to promote Chicano/Latino and Native American achievement and ex- cellence in science, SACNAS has provided opportunities for African- Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and Euro-Americans as well. The mission of SACNAS is to increase the number of Chicano/ Latino and Native American students pursuing graduate education

OCR for page 188
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT and obtaining the necessary degrees for research careers and science- teaching professions at all levels. SACNAS works on a national level to close these gaps in educational opportunities and high achievement by creating partnerships and initiatives that increase representation of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in the sciences. To address the needs of minorities in the sciences, SACNAS provides creative ap- proaches to improving science education and equalizing opportunities in the national scientific workforce. SACNAS delivers high-quality mentoring and professional development to its members through its national conference, summer research programs, and publications. The Society's strengths lie in the active involvement of its members, a dedi- cated board of directors, and a strong multilevel network between fed- eral agencies, professional scientific societies, universities, and the pri- vate sector. SACNAS is nationally recognized for its leadership and effective pro- grams in science and education. It has received the National Science Board's Public Service Award. The National Science Board (NSB) estab- lished the Public Service Award in November 1996. "The annual award recognizes people and organizations who have increased the public un- derstanding of science or engineering." Its members have been recognized nationally for their effective mentoring programs. Seven of the past win- ners of the White House's Presidential Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Science, Engineering and Mathematics were SACNAS presidents, board members, or active SACNAS members. SACNAS seeks to change the woeful state of science-education mi- nority youth by encouraging all underrepresented groups while focus- ing on Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans to pursue advanced degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering. RECOMMENDATIONS Based upon 30 years of experience in working to advance the status of minority students in science careers, SACNAS proposes the following rec- ommendations: 1. High-quality education is the right of all children and it is the responsibility of society to ensure that it is available to all. Education be- gins in preschool. It is clear that high-quality early education is a key to success (Headstart). These programs must be fully supported and the most successful practices replicated. 2. While SACNAS's mission has focused on graduate education, we understand that K-12 teachers hold the keys that open the doors to college. There must be expanded efforts to train teachers not only in peda-

OCR for page 188
gogy but also in science content and mathematics and to promote teach- ers' lifelong learning. 3. Teachers must encourage achievement and excellence from all stu- dents. 4. Funds to support the number of rigorous hands-on/minds-on math and science at middle and high schools must be provided for schools with high minority student enrollments. 5. Information about college, especially application requirements, and financial aid, must be readily available. This information needs to be given to parents and students often. Colleges and universities must begin their outreach to children in elementary school. 6. Financial aid for students must be expanded to meet the needs of students. Although recently increased aid for college was a step in the right direction, it still does not meet the needs of many students who most need the support, students from economically challenged families. Schol- arship programs to support economically disadvantaged students must be expanded. 7. All scientists must be involved in community outreach. Often, only minority faculty are required to take on special work focusing on minority outreach, minority mentoring, and advisement. However, this work should be spread among all faculty. 8. There are many successful features of the SACNAS annual confer- ence that can be replicated elsewhere. These are meant to address the needs of our students, to encourage their academic achievement and their profes- sional success. We are explicit in informing the participants what we expect of them. Many students have never been to a scientific conference; indeed, have never been out of their state nor slept away from their families. So we have a required orientation session for all sponsored students. The Society also provides professional development workshops on how to negotiate graduate school, job interviews, presentations, and publication, and, for fac- ulty, tenure. We promote excellence in science by providing students with opportunities to listen and meet with outstanding scientists, many of whom are themselves members of an underrepresented minority group. We invite parents and family members of local participants and high school students to attend our "Community Day" at the conference. 9. Support for programs that provide opportunities for undergradu- ate research should be enhanced and expanded. Stipends for students in these programs must be sufficient to allow them to pay for tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. 10. Graduate fellowships and traineeships should provide support that permits graduate students to survive, so that they do not have to take out thousands of dollars of loans just to get by. These tax-derived funds should benefit our citizens and resident aliens.

OCR for page 188
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT 11. Colleges and Universities must seek to diversify the professori- ate. Many colleges are currently providing incentives for scientists who are also interested in K-12 science education. Can private/public partner- ships be created to increase the diversity of the professoriate? 12. Partnerships between private corporations, federal agencies, and nonprofits must be encouraged and strengthened to promote diversity in the scientific workforce. 13. A federal committee should be formed to determine a national policy that will encourage greater development of our country's youth to seek science careers and lessen our dependence on foreign nationals. REFERENCES Bagla, P. 2002. Missing Generation Leaves Hole in Fabric of Research. Science 298: 773-74. Borden, V. 2002. The Top 100. Black Issues in Higher Education 19:40-49. College Board. 1999. Reaching the Top: A Report of the National Task Force of Minority High Achievement. College Board Publications, New York, NY. Dalaker, J. 2001. Poverty in the United States: 2000. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P60-214, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2001. National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2000. Arlington, VA: National Sci- ence Foundation, 2000 (NSB-00-01~. National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2002. Arlington, VA: National Sci- ence Foundation, 2002 (NSB-02-01~. National Science Foundation. Division of Science Resources Studies. Statistical Profiles of For- eign Doctoral Recipients in Science and Engineering: Plans to Stay in the United States. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 1998. National Science Foundation. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering: 2000. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2000 NSF-00-327. Quintana-Baker, M. 2002. A Profile of Mexican American, Puerto Rican and Other Hispanic STEM Doctorates: 1983-1999. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering 8: 99-121.