ers bring perspectives to their work that may not be common among non-minority researchers. “It is not just that you are fulfilling the American dream by bringing people in,” said Taylor. Greater diversity also “enhances the talents of white and male researchers.”

In his keynote address, NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni emphasized the importance of diversity to NIH’s future. “The diversity of the scientific workforce has to be a reflection of the society within which it resides,” he said. “Otherwise you end up with science becoming a sort of elite activity of a few, rather than the social activity that underpins the strength of society.” In 2050, Zerhouni pointed out, more than half of the U.S. population will consist of minority groups that are currently underrepresented in science. “It is a strategic imperative that we succeed in making sure that we have the scientific body in 20 to 30 years that represents the vitality of our society.”

Today’s scientific workforce is a very long way from reflecting the makeup of the broader society. The representation of minorities within the pipeline leading to the PhD and to research careers drops at each successive educational level. In 2004, African Americans, who constitute about 13 percent of the U.S. population, received approximately 9 percent of the baccalaureate degrees at U.S. colleges and universities but less than 4 percent of the PhDs awarded to U.S. citizens. Hispanics, who constitute more than 14 percent of the U.S. population, received less than 7 percent of the bachelor’s degrees and only a little more than 3 percent of the PhD degrees.1 Even Asian Americans, though overrepresented in some fields, are underrepresented in others. In short, said Taylor, “there is quite a pool of people we are losing [from the pipeline]. We could double doctorate production by getting a good plumber.”

Furthermore, even when underrepresented minorities earn PhDs, they appear to be less likely than white doctorate recipients to conduct research at elite research universities. In the 50 biology departments that have recently received the most federal funding, for example, the percentage of faculty members who are underrepresented minorities is less than the percentage of underrepresented


Baccalaureate data: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. 2005. Digest of Education Statistics: 2005. NCES 0006-030. June 2006. Doctorate data: T.B. Hoffer, V. Welch, Jr., K. Webber, K. Williams, B. Lisek, M. Hess, D. Loew, and I. Guzman-Barron. 2006. Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: Summary Report 2005. Chicago: National Opinion Research Center. (The report gives the results of data collected in the Survey of Earned Doctorates, conducted for six federal agencies—NSF, NIH, USED, NEH, USDA, and NASA—by NORC.)

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