relatively well matched. However, the committee also notes that both NASA and the aerospace industry employ engineers from many different fields besides aerospace engineering, such as electrical engineering, making a comparison of supply and demand for NASA more complicated.

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY

During the 1990s, NASA made admirable efforts to diversify its workforce through programs such as the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP). The committee applauds this effort and believes that it must continue. If NASA and industry do not actively seek out employees from nontraditional demographic groups, they will miss out on the groups that are growing most rapidly in the United States, and their workforces will look less and less like the U.S. population as a whole.

Current demographic trends indicate that white males will constitute a smaller share of the labor market over time, primarily because of immigration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that white males will constitute 34.9 percent of the total U.S. labor force in 2014 compared to 37.4 percent in 2004.14 The divergent trends are more impressive if the growth rates are compared across demographic groups. Between 2004 and 2014, the number of white men in the labor force is projected to increase by 4.3 million (6.6 percent); in contrast, the number of women is projected to increase by 8.2 million (10.9 percent); of Blacks, by 1.3 million (16.8 percent); of Asians, by 2.0 million (32 percent); and of Hispanics, by 6.5 million (34 percent).

The nonprofit organization Engineers Dedicated to a Better Tomorrow analyzed data compiled by the NSF and the Department of Education to prepare a breakdown by gender of students earning bachelor’s degrees in various fields of science and engineering.15 The study identified four fields—physics, computer science, engineering, and engineering technology—as being behind all other science and engineering fields in terms of the gender diversity of their graduating baccalaureate classes. For those four fields taken together in 2004, only 21 percent of students earning baccalaureates were women, compared with 50 percent for science and engineering as a whole. The study noted that while the percentage of women earning baccalaureate degrees across all science and engineering fields has been rising steadily since the 1970s, the percentage of female degree earners has not increased significantly since 2000 for any of the four fields identified above.

Engineers Dedicated to a Better Tomorrow also examined the racial and ethnic makeup of students earning bachelor’s degrees.16 The overall percentage of baccalaureates in science and engineering awarded to underrepresented minorities in 2004 was just slightly below the corresponding college-wide percentage for all academic disciplines—16.4 versus 16.9 percent. For individual minority groups, the percentage of baccalaureates awarded in science and engineering versus all disciplines was approximately the same—8.4 versus 8.7 percent for Blacks, 7.3 versus 7.5 percent for Hispanics, and 0.71 versus 0.70 percent for Native Americans. The analysis found that three fields—physics, mathematics and statistics, and engineering—lagged significantly, both in 2004 and historically, in achieving racial/ethnic diversity in their graduating baccalaureate classes compared to the level seen for science and engineering as a whole. Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans were substantially underrepresented in physics, mathematics, and statistics; in engineering, Blacks and Native Americans were substantially underrepresented. This underrepresentation generally extended throughout the various subdisciplines of engineering.

The statistics on diversity are particularly significant given that NASA centers are located in states seeing major shifts in workforce diversity and college graduate diversity. For instance, the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Ames Research Center, Dryden Flight Research Center, Johnson Space Center, and Kennedy Space Center are all located in states with a Hispanic workforce and population demographic ranging

14

All data in this paragraph are from Mitra Toossi, 2005, “Labor Force Projections to 2014: Retiring Boomers,” Monthly Labor Review, November, Table 6, p. 39.

15

Engineers Dedicated to a Better Tomorrow, “Women in Engineering and Related Fields—Diversity Analysis of Students Earning Bachelor’s Degrees,” Dedicated Engineers Critical Issues Series, Menlo Park, Calif., 2006, available at http://www.dedicatedengineers.org/news_pubs/Critical_Issues_Women_6-06.pdf.

16

Engineers Dedicated to a Better Tomorrow, “Minorities in Engineering and Related Fields—Diversity Analysis of Students Earning Bachelor’s Degrees,” Dedicated Engineers Critical Issues Series, Menlo Park, Calif., 2006, available at http://www.dedicatedengineers.org/news_pubs/Critical_Issues_Minorities_6-06.pdf.



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