need for better data collection and reporting by race, sex and field of study; the need to look at experiences of different age cohorts; the variation in experiences across racial/ethnic groups, across the educational spectrum and in the workforce; the role of HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions; career and family related issues; and the impact of affirmative action and the law on education and careers.
Though the report of the conference, The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science (Shirley Mahaley Malcom, Paula Quick Hall, and Janet Welsh Brown, AAAS, Washington DC, 1976) was published in 1976, it has remained a touchstone that has guided many researchers as they sought to move from the experiences shared by the conferees to a rigorous exploration of issues and circumstances first elaborated in the report.
AAAS highlighted the conference and reported it in the AAAS News section of Science magazine (Science, 6 February 1976:Vol. 191 no. 4226 p. 457DOI: 10.1126/science.191.4226.457), giving visibility to the issue to the larger science community. In 1977, a National Network of Minority Women in Science (MWIS) was established at an AAAS Annual Meeting with Yolanda Scott George as its founding chair. In addition, several local, independent networks were established, with at least one, the DC MWIS, operating to this day.
Subsequent work by AAAS was undertaken to address recommendations that emerged from the conference: the development and publication of career related materials specifically aimed at speaking to the challenges and tensions of minority women in science and engineering called out by the conferees; collaboration with the Scientific Manpower Commission (later the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology) in promoting the availability and use of race by sex disaggregated data; networking at the AAAS annual meeting; greater recognition given to minority women, such as in nominations and appointments to committees, for prizes, etc.
Subsequently efforts have also been made to understand issues related to participation in science and engineering by Asian American women, especially with regard to barriers to their advancement.
Mainstreaming Issues Related to Minority Women in Science
AAAS is proud of its legacy related to minority women in science. Minority women are present across all aspects of the work of the Association: they have served on its Board and two have served as AAAS president; they have been present as members and leaders of its Board-appointed committees; they have participated in its programs, such as the highly regarded AAAS Science and Technology Policy and Diplomacy Fellowships; and they serve among its senior management.
A Double Bind conferee, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of RPI, has served as president of AAAS. Dr. Alice Huang of Caltech has also led the Association as its president.
AAAS, through the advocacy of its Committee on Opportunities in Science, has continued to express its concerns related to the availability of data from the NSF, in this case around newly emerging challenges related to suppression of data due to small “cell size,” aggregated in many instances with increasing sub-field disaggregation. For example, this has proven problematic in accessing race by sex data at the Ph.D. level for science and engineering, making it very difficult to assess progress of minority women in science and engineering. In contrast, data systems of the Association of American Medical Colleges provide a model of data accessibility.