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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads 2 Dimensions of the Problem EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT The connection between education and economic growth in the United States is strong. Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, for example, have argued that it was no coincidence that the twentieth century was both the “American Century,” as defined by the growing economic preeminence of the United States, and the “human capital century,” as defined by technological change that demanded increasing levels of skill on the part of workers. In the late nineteenth century, they note, technological change in the United States became “skill-biased”—driving demand for an ever more skilled workforce. This skill-demanding technological change was an important force in the United States throughout the twentieth century, with the change brought on by the information technology revolution only the latest chapter, leading to a pattern of increased educational attainment.1 Goldin and Katz have summarized that history of increased educational attainment in the United States: Not long ago the United States led the world in education and had done so for quite some time. In the 19th century the United States pioneered free and accessible elementary education for most of its citizens. In the early to mid-20th century it extended its lead with the high school movement, when other nations had just discovered mass elementary education. In the 1 C. Goldin and L. F. Katz. 2008. The Race Between Education and Technology. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p. 2.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads immediate post-World War II era, higher education became a middle-class entitlement in America. A further capstone to the U.S. lead in education in the immediate postwar years was that its universities became the finest in the world. By the 1950s, the United States had achieved preeminence in education at all levels and its triumphant lead would remain undisputed for several decades.2 This trajectory in educational attainment was a stunning success and a defining characteristic of both economic growth and our history of social mobility. Since the 1970s, however, overall educational attainment has stagnated in the United States, even as technological change and the return to higher education—for those who are able to pursue it—have increased. This has happened at the same time as most countries in Europe and several in Asia have caught up and, in some cases, surpassed the United States in educational attainment. Consequently, the United States has lost a key competitive advantage. Once first among OECD nations in postsecondary attainment, the United States has fallen to 11th. In 2008, about 40 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds in the United States had earned a postsecondary degree or credential at the associate’s or bachelor’s level or above, a level that has not changed significantly in several decades. Increasing postsecondary success has, as a result, emerged as an important national strategy and goal for ensuring a strong workforce and competitive economy for the future. The College Board has urged that we increase the percentage of the 25- to 34-year age group with postsecondary degrees (associate, baccalaureate, or above) to 55 percent.3 The Lumina Foundation has adopted a goal, through its Making Opportunity Affordable program, to “raise the proportion of the U.S. adult population who earn college degrees to 60 percent by the year 2025, an increase of 16 million graduates above current rates” (2008).4 President Obama (2009) has challenged the United States to have the highest proportion of postsecondary graduates in the world by 2020.5 Patterns of racial participation in education overlay this history in a critical way. Underrepresented minorities were largely and systematically excluded from mainstream educational opportunities through de jure and de facto segregation that continued from Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 through the desegregation and busing battles of the 1970s. This period of exclusion 2 Goldin and Katz. 2008. Race Between Education and Technology, p. 324. 3 The College Board. 2009. Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future. 4 The Lumina Foundation, http://www.luminafoundation.org/our_work/ (accessed March 27, 2009). 5 President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February 24, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/remarks-of-president-barack-obama-address-to-joint-session-of-congress/ (accessed September 4, 2009).
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads coincides with the period of increasing educational opportunity for white Americans discussed above. The efforts of the civil rights movement led to increases in educational opportunity for underrepresented minorities, beginning in the 1940s with Mendez et al. v. Westminster Schools District of Orange County, continuing in the 1950s with the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and accelerating in the 1960s, 1970s, and after with cases such as Edgewood ISD v. Kirby. This period of inclusion for underrepresented minorities, however, particularly from the 1970s on, coincides with stagnation in both public educational investment and overall levels of educational attainment. So, little progress has been made to more than marginally improve educational outcomes for minorities.6 While the targeted level of 55 percent postsecondary attainment is already achieved by Asian Americans in the United States and nearly matched by our white population (as it is by their peer cohorts in Canada and Japan), the postsecondary attainment of underrepresented minority students lags behind that of white and Asian students dramatically. Underrepresented minorities will need to more than double their proportions with a postsecondary degree in order just to meet the 55 percent mark. At present, just 26 percent of African Americans, 24 percent of Native Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 18 percent of Hispanics and Latinos in the 25- to 34-year-old cohort have attained at least an associate’s degree. The news is even worse in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, the subject of this report. In 2000, the United States ranked 20 out of 24 countries in the percentage of 24-year-olds who had earned a first degree in the natural sciences or engineering, and Rising Above the Gathering Storm recommended efforts to increase the percentage of 24-year-olds with these degrees from 6 percent to at least 10 percent, the benchmark already attained by Finland, France, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. But again, as bad as the statistics are for the overall population, they are even more alarming for underrepresented minorities. These students now need to triple, quadruple, or even quintuple their proportions with a first degree in these fields in order to achieve this 10 percent goal. At present, just 2.7 percent of African Americans, 3.3 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and 2.2 percent of Hispanics and Latinos who are 24 years old have earned a first degree in the natural sciences or engineering.7 6 C. Newfield. 2008. Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class.(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 7 National Science Foundation, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/ (accessed March 27, 2009); U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates, Available at http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2007-asrh.html (accessed March 27, 2009).
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads The national goal of increased postsecondary educational attainment is vital. The goal of increased postsecondary participation and success for underrepresented minorities in STEM, which relies in part on the former goal, is strategically important and, as we have now seen, a task of formidable scale. EDUCATION AND THE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING WORKFORCE The S&E workforce is large and fast-growing: more than 5 million strong and projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow faster than any other sector in coming years.8 This growth rate provides an opportunity to draw on new sources of talent, including underrepresented minorities, to make our S&E workforce as robust and dynamic as possible. The data on underrepresented minorities in the S&E workforce, however, suggest that while there has been needed progress, there is also reason for continued concern, even alarm. For example, the percentage of our college-educated, nonacademic S&E labor force that is African American increased from 2.6 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent in 2005, and the percentage that is Hispanic increased from 2.0 percent to 5.2 percent during that period.9 However, these percentages and the progress they represent remain small and insufficient, as African Americans comprise 11 percent and Hispanics 14 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, and even higher percentages in the U.S. population. Indeed, the proportion of underrepresented minorities in S&E would need to triple to match their share of the overall U.S. population, revealing a scale of effort that is substantial. As Figure 2-1 shows, in 2006 underrepresented minority groups represented 28.5 percent of our national population but just 9.1 percent of college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations (academic and nonacademic). Data show that in 2006, fewer than 10 percent of STEM faculty at research universities were 8 Out of a civilian labor force of more than 150 million in the United States, the S&E workforce ranges in size from less than 4 million to more than 21 million, depending on definitions used, such as occupation, field of degree, and the extent to which S&E knowledge is needed for employment. Here we focus on the most commonly used definition of the S&E workforce, namely, those individuals with a bachelor’s degree or above working in an S&E occupation. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, Employment Situation, Table A-1, Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm (accessed June 16, 2009). National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators, 2008, 3-8; and Sidebar, “Who Is a Scientist or Engineer?,” pp. 3-9. 9 Table underlying Figure 3-27 in Science and Engineering Indicators, 2008.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-1 Enrollment and degrees, by educational level and race/ethnicity/citizenship, 2007. SOURCES: NCES, Digest of Education Statistics, 2008, Table 41. NSF, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities, Tables A-2, C-6, E-3, and F-11. NSF, S&E Degree Awards, 2006, Table 3. underrepresented minorities; the percentage of URM women is even lower.10 Whites were overrepresented at 74.5 percent of the S&E workforce compared to 67.4 percent of the U.S. population. Asians were overrepresented as well: The proportion of Asians in the S&E workforce (16.4 percent) is substantially more than their representation in the U.S population (4.4 percent). Underrepresentation of this magnitude in the S&E workforce stems from the underproduction of minorities in S&E at every level of post-secondary education, with a progressive loss of representation as we proceed 10 D. Nelson. 2007. A National Analysis of Minorities in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities. Norman, OK: Diversity in Science Association and University of Oklahoma.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads up the academic ladder. In 2007, as shown in Figure 2-1, underrepresented minorities made up 38.8 percent of K-12 public enrollment, 33.2 percent of the U.S college age population, 26.2 percent of undergraduate enrollment, and 17.7 percent of those earning science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. In graduate school, underrepresented minorities comprise 17.7 percent of overall enrollment but are awarded just 14.6 percent of S&E master’s degrees and a miniscule 5.4 percent of S&E doctorates. These trends are seen in each underrepresented racial/ethnic group: In 2006, Hispanic or Latino Americans comprised 15.0 percent of the U.S. population and 17.8 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. However, in 2005, they earned 7.9 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 6.2 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 5.2 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 2.9 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-U.S. citizens who are temporary visa holders). In 2006, African Americans comprised 12.5 percent of the U.S. population and 14.1 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. However, in 2005, they earned 8.8 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 8.8 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 4.5 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 2.5 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-U.S. citizens who are temporary visa holders). In 2004, Native Americans and Alaska Natives comprised 0.8 percent of the U.S. population and 1.0 percent of the college-age population, age 18-24. In 2005, they earned 0.7 percent of S&E bachelor’s degrees and 0.6 percent of S&E master’s degrees. In 2007, they earned 0.5 percent of S&E doctoral degrees awarded by U.S institutions to U.S. citizens and permanent residents and just 0.3 percent of S&E doctorates awarded to all recipients (including non-US citizens who are temporary visa holders). All of these indicators point to underutilization in science and engineering fields of persons from these minority groups, with especially severe underproduction at the doctoral level. TRACKING POSTSECONDARY INTEREST AND COMPLETION Research on underproduction of minorities in science and engineering has focused on interest and persistence. In 2005, the American Council on Education (ACE), analyzing data from the 1990s collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that although the proportion of African American and Hispanic students who begin college with an inter-
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads est in majoring in STEM was similar to the proportion of white and Asian American students, African American and Hispanic students completed STEM degrees after six years at a lower rate.11 In particular, ACE found: African American and Hispanic students begin college interested in majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at rates similar to those of white and Asian American students: In the 1995-1996 academic year, 18.6 percent of African American students and 22.7 percent of Hispanic students began college interested in majoring in STEM fields compared with 44.4 percent of white and Asian-American students. African American and Hispanic students persist in these fields through their third year of study. By the spring of 1998, students in each racial/ethnic group continued to study STEM fields at nearly the same rates (56 percent of African Americans and Hispanics, 57 percent of whites and Asian Americans). African American and Hispanic students did not earn their bachelor’s degrees at the same rate as their peers. By the spring of 2001, 62.5 percent of African Americans and Hispanics majoring in STEM fields had completed a bachelor’s degree compared with 94.8 percent of Asian Americans and 86.7 percent of whites. These findings are important, yet they are based on a cohort of students that began college almost 15 years ago. Recently, the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California Los Angeles released data from a sample of more than 200,000 students across 326 four-year institutions that began college in fall 2004, providing trends in aspirations to major and completion of degrees in STEM disaggregated by race/ethnicity. The data allow us to examine current trends and see whether there has been substantial change from the mid-1990s.12 As shown in Figure 2-2, HERI found that while there has been considerable volatility in aspiration to major in STEM since 1971, trends in aspiration by race/ethnicity began to converge in the late 1980s and have stabilized at between 30 and 35 percent both overall and for white/Asian American and underrepresented minority groups since the early 1990s. While the percentages aspiring to a STEM major are higher in the HERI 11 American Council on Education. 2005. Increasing the Success of Minority Students in Science and Technology. Washington, DC: ACE. 12 Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, Degrees of Success: Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates Among Initial STEM Majors, HERI Report Brief, January 2010. http://www.heri.ucla.edu/nih/HERI_ResearchBrief_OL_2010_STEM.pdf (accessed February 20, 2010).
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-2 Trends in students’ aspiration to major in a STEM discipline by racial identification, 1971-2009. SOURCE: University of California Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute. data than in the NCES data (which was based on a much smaller sample), the overall finding is the same: Underrepresented minorities report a level of aspiration to major in STEM similar to those of their white/Asian peers. As shown in Figure 2-3, HERI examined four-year (2008) and five-year (2009) completion rates of the 2004 STEM majors by race/ethnicity, finding that underrepresented minorities completed at a much lower rate at both intervals relative to their white and Asian American peers. White and Asian American students who started as STEM majors have four-year STEM degree completion rates of 24.5 and 32.4 percent, respectively. In comparison, Latino, black, and Native American students who initially began college as STEM majors had four-year STEM degree completion rates of 15.9, 13.2, and 14.0 percent, respectively. As HERI reports, the differences after 5 years is even more pronounced. Approximately 33 and 42 percent of white and Asian American STEM majors, respectively, completed their bachelor’s degree within 5 years of college entry. In contrast, the five-year completion rates for Latino, black, and Native American students were 22.1, 18.4, and 18.8 percent, respectively. HERI data show four- and five-year completion rates for the 2004 cohort (the six-year completion rate will be available later this year), and the NCES data analyzed by ACE provide a six-year completion rate. However, the gaps in STEM completion rates of STEM majors between underrepre-
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-3 Percentage of 2004 STEM aspirants who completed STEM degrees in four and five years, by race/ethnicity. SOURCE: University of California Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute. sented minorities and whites and Asian Americans are similarly large for the 1995 and 2004 cohorts, and, in the case of the 2004 cohort, the gap appears to increase as the interval from matriculation grows. Another salient dimension to the picture of STEM completion for underrepresented minorities is the difference in completion rates for underrepresented minorities in STEM relative to those for underrepresented minorities who major in non-STEM fields. As shown in Figure 2-4, all five racial/ethnic groups have higher four- and five-year completion rates in non-STEM majors. This analysis reveals a trend that is relevant to both whites and Asian Americans as well as underrepresented minorities. That is, there is a problem for STEM completion relative to non-STEM completion as well as a problem for underrepresented minorities in STEM relative to their white and Asian American peers. After further analyzing the NCES data, ACE identified several key differences in the data between students who earned a bachelor’s degree by spring 2001 in a STEM field and those who did not (noting that there may be other differences that had not been counted in the data). Completers were better prepared for postsecondary education because a larger percentage took a highly rigorous high school curriculum.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-4 Four- and five-year degree completion rates of 2004 freshmen, by initial major aspiration and race/ethnicity. SOURCE: University of California Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute. Nearly all completers were younger than 19 when they entered college in 1995-1996 compared with 83.9 percent of noncompleters. Completers were more likely to have at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Completers came from families with higher incomes. Noncompleters were more likely to work 15 hours or more a week. That is, preparation, motivation, and financial support are important to success and completion. Moreover, all of these can be the focus of immediate intervention. HERI has not yet released an analysis of the differences between completers and noncompleters, but we can expect that there will be an overlap in the issues that have been at play for the 2004 HERI cohort as ACE found for the 1995 NCES cohort. Indeed, based on research that will be discussed below, we would expand this list of factors affecting completion to include preparation, access to information, self-motivation and identification with science or engineering as a profession, institutional strategies for inclusion, and professional development. ACE also found that “strategies for increasing the degree completion of minority students in the STEM fields are the same for increasing success in any other major,” a conclusion similar to that of Daryl Chubin and Wanda Ward, who have examined features of programs designed to increase participation of underrepresented minori-
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads ties in STEM.13 However, a particular problem appears to exist for STEM programs, as evidenced by the HERI completion data. TAKING STOCK Trends in the overall number of underrepresented minorities earning science and engineering degrees are encouraging. However, just as the persistence data we have examined confirms that there remains a problem in persistence and completion for underrepresented minorities relative to their white and Asian American peers, so too do data on the relative proportions of each racial/ethnic group among those earning science and engineering degrees. Science and Engineering Degrees Indeed, we have achieved important progress in increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in higher education generally and in science and engineering specifically. For example, there was a 77 percent increase in S&E associate’s degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities from 1998 to 2007, with an increase of about 50 percent in computer sciences.14 Community colleges face the same challenges in retaining students as do other institutions, or even more than they do. Many incoming freshmen lack the basic mathematics and science prerequisites for persistence, especially in urban communities that serve a large minority population from low-performing high schools, and the institutions are forced to provide intensive programs in remedial education to increase minority student retention in STEM. Chang (2003) noted that community colleges have implemented innovative approaches to retain underrepresented students.15 Some institutions now offer programs that provide students an opportunity to engage in hands-on projects, and others have changed the curriculum to promote more collaborative group work. According to Chang, these “social support systems are of particular benefit to underrepresented minorities in fields that have previously been perceived as intimidating or unwelcoming.” Community colleges also are seeking to increase the admission and transfer of underrepresented minorities through partnerships with elementary and 13 Daryl E. Chubin and Wanda E. Ward. Building on the BEST principles and evidence: A framework for broadening participation, in M. Boyd and J. Wesermann, eds., Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research: Fostering Excellence and Enhancing the Impact. Washington, DC: Council of Undergraduate Research, forthcoming. 14 National Science Foundation. 2009. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. The totals exclude associate’s degrees in psychology and social sciences. 15 J. C. Chang. 2003. Women and minorities in the science, mathematics, and engineering pipeline, ERIC Digest.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 2-1 Percentage Change in S&E Degrees Earned, by Degree Level and Race/Ethnicity (Bachelor’s and Master’s 1998-2007; Doctorates 1998-2007) Percent Change Bachelor’s Master’s Doctorate White 14.7 11.9 −2.3 Asian/Pacific Islander 33.8 38.6 30.1 Black 31.3 70.9 44.3 Hispanic 49.9 74.4 62.3 American Indian/Alaska Native 38.8 48.8 3.9 Other/Unknown 165.5 149.4 69.0 Temporary Residents 17.8 26.8 50.4 SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2009. Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. secondary schools and four-year institutions. Thus, the community college, with its diverse student population, is an integral player in advancing minority representation in STEM. Meanwhile, as shown in Table 2-1, underrepresented minorities also are the fastest growing populations in science and engineering at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, as indicated by degrees awarded by four-year institutions. Their numbers are growing faster than those of temporary residents and whites and are outstripped only by the other/unknown category.16 However, and this cannot be stressed enough, this progress is comprised of large gains over a very small base, and minorities remain underrepresented across science and engineering fields and academic levels. Indeed, representation varies across fields, with some showing trivial progress and representation decreases as we ascend the academic ladder. As shown in Figure 2-5, there is considerable variation in representation across S&E fields. At the bachelor’s level, there is strongest representation in biological sciences, computer science, social sciences, and psychology. In other fields, though, there are much smaller levels of participation, especially in astronomy, materials engineering, and earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. At the master’s level, representation is generally lower across all fields, though the pattern of representation is similar. It is strongest in industrial engineering, the social sciences, and psychology. Representation at the doctoral level is the most problematic and should be the focus of significant intervention. 16 This latter category is largely composed of individuals who report multiple races or refuse to respond to race/ethnicity questions. Individuals of underrepresented minority ancestry comprise the majority of these groups, so the growth of this category may result in some level of underreporting of minority participation. NSF/SRS documentation.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-5 Underrepresented minorities among S&E degree recipients, by degree level, 2006. SOURCE: Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. Table 2-1, again, shows that the proportion of underrepresented minorities has recently increased for all groups. Hispanics earning S&E doctorates increased more than 66 percent from 1998 to 2007. African Americans made more modest gains of 44.3 percent during that period. (In both cases, again, these are gains over a very small base.) The increases among Hispanics and African Americans partially compensated for decreases during this period in the numbers of whites and Asians earning S&E doctorates (the downward trend in doctoral degrees awarded to whites and Asians turned around in 2003 and are heading back to pre-2000 levels). However, playing an even larger role are non-U.S. citizens on temporary visas. There is considerable variation in underrepresented minority participation by field at the doctoral level. As also seen in Figure 2-5, underrepresented minorities comprise extremely low percentages in the natural sciences and engineering—biology at 6 percent, the physical sciences and engineering below 5 percent—and numbers so low in computer science as to make them practically nonexistent. Representation is highest for these groups, again, in the social sciences and psychology. However, there is variation in representation within these latter fields. For example, within sociology, psychology, economics, and political science, African Americans tend to be substantially underrepresented in quantitative subfields, such as statistics, sociology of science, psychometrics, and econometrics. As shown in Figure 2-6, it is in the fields where underrepresented minorities have extremely low representation that we find the highest levels
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-6 Temporary residents among S&E degree recipients, by degree level, 2006. SOURCE: Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. of non-U.S. citizens with temporary visas. In 2007, 60 percent or more of doctorates awarded by U.S. institutions in engineering and computer science were to temporary visa holders. High percentages were also awarded to this group in mathematics and the physical sciences. Temporary visa holders also received moderately high percentages of doctoral awards in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences; biology; and the social sciences (chiefly in economics). By contrast, their awards in psychology—one field with relatively higher awards to underrepresented minorities—are very low. From 1998 to 2007, temporary visa holders increased their numbers in S&E doctorate awards by 50.4 percent and were, therefore, one of the fastest growing groups by far. This increase continued over time during the post-September 11 period when there was significant concern about the application, acceptance, and enrollment of non-U.S. citizens at the graduate level. We have yet to see the effect of these post-911 trends as most of those earning doctorates during the 1998-2007 period began their studies before 2001. Based on trends in graduate enrollment for this group, we might assume that there will be decreases in S&E doctorates among them in the near future. Doctoral Workforce The doctoral workforce is of particular importance and interest. Not only does it provide underrepresented minorities an opportunity to contrib-
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads ute to teaching and research, but it is at this level that increases can also have a multiplier effect. It becomes the pool for higher education institutions to recruit and develop the talent to diversify their faculty. However, diversifying faculties is perhaps the least successful of the diversity initiatives for a number of reasons cited in higher education research, such as unwelcoming climates at predominantly white institutions (Turner and Myers, 2000), inequity in hiring and promotion practices (Rowan-Kenyon and Milem 2008), and the presumption that minorities who do not earn their degrees at the most prestigious institutions are less qualified (Mickelson and Oliver, 1991). As the number of underrepresented minorities in faculty positions increases, the more role models underrepresented minority students have who “look like them” and the higher the rate at which underrepresented minority students enroll and graduate. Three African American chemists, for example, are responsible for mentoring close to 400 minority students in the field who then went on to earn PhDs and, for the most part, to enter academic careers.17 However, the level of underrepresented minority participation in the doctoral S&E workforce is very small. As shown in Figure 2-7, underrepresented minorities as a whole comprised just 8 percent of academic doctoral scientists and engineers working in four-year colleges and universities in 2006. The percentage of doctorate holders in nonacademic S&E occupations who are underrepresented minorities increased from 4.4 percent in 1990 to 6.1 in 2005, a substantial increase if it were not over a very small base.18 Myers and Turner concluded that market forces such as wages play a more prominent role in affecting faculty representation in the short run than pipeline factors designed to increase the supply of minority faculty.19 Overall, underrepresented minorities comprise just 6.8 percent of doctoral scientists, and there is even worse news about their participation in high-end research. As shown in Table 2-2, data from the National Institutes of Health show that African Americans and Hispanics are even more underrepresented among their principal investigators (PIs). In 2006, only 1.8 percent of PIs receiving NIH research grants were African Americans and only 3.5 percent were Hispanic. Similarly, as shown in Table 2-3, 2.2 percent of PIs awarded NSF research grants were African Americans, 4.0 percent were Hispanic, and 0.3 percent were Native American/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. 17 Isiah Warner. A Tale of Three Chemists. Presentation to Study Committee, Third Committee Meeting, October 22, 2008. 18 National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators, 2008, Table underlying Figures 3-28. 19 S. Myers Jr. and C. Turner. The effects of Ph.D. supply on minority faculty representation, The American Economic Review 94(2), Papers and Proceedings of the One Hundred Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association. San Diego, CA, pp. 296-301.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads FIGURE 2-7 Doctoral scientists and engineers employed in four-year institutions, by race/ethnicity, 2006. SOURCE: Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. TABLE 2-2 Principal Investigators on NIH Research Grants, by Race/Ethnicity Fiscal Year White African Americansa Hispanicb Otherc 2000 86.2% 1.3% 2.9% 11.4% 2001 85.7% 1.3% 2.9% 12.1% 2002 85.2% 1.5% 3.1% 12.4% 2003 84.4% 1.6% 3.3% 13.2% 2004 83.5% 1.7% 3.3% 14.1% 2005 82.8% 1.7% 3.5% 14.8% 2006 82.1% 1.8% 3.5% 15.4% a Race data may contain individuals reporting Hispanic ethnicity, as well as individuals reporting more than one race b “All Hispanic” includes Hispanic Race, plus individuals reporting Hispanic Ethnicity (for these individuals the data includes individuals who are represented in one or more of the racial groups) c Includes Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaska Native. SOURCE: Raynard Kington, Deputy Director, National Institutes of Health, Presentation to Committee, June 11, 2008.
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Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads TABLE 2-3 NSF Research Proposals and Awards, by Race/Ethnicity of PI, 2009 American Indian/Alaska Native Proposals 78 % of Proposals 0.2% Awards 27 % of Funded 0.2% Funding Rate 35% Black/African American Proposals 1,005 % of Proposals 2.5% Awards 290 % of Funded 2.2% Funding Rate 29% Hispanic or Latino Proposals 1,724 % of Proposals 4.2% Awards 529 % of Funded 4.0% Funding Rate 31% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island Proposals 20 % of Proposals 0.0% Awards 8 % of Funded 0.1% Funding Rate 40% Asian Proposals 9,377 % of Proposals 23.1% Awards 2,426 % of Funded 18.2% Funding Rate 26% White, Not of Hispanic Origin Proposals 28,476 % of Proposals 70.0% Awards 10,023 % of Funded 75.3% Funding Rate 35% All Races Proposals 40,680 % of Proposals 100.0% Awards 13,303 % of Funded 100.0% Funding Rate 39% SOURCE: National Science Foundation, NSF Enterprise Information System, as of October 1, 2009. In sum, underrepresented minorities are underutilized in science and engineering. There is underproduction of S&E graduates at every educational level from secondary school through doctoral education. Underrepresented minorities are also significantly underrepresented in the doctoral population, in the faculty, and among researchers awarded federal research funds. This is a substantial human resource for the United States in general and United States science and engineering in particular, and we are currently squandering it.
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