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In the recent work of the AAAS on law and diversity, undertaken in partnership with the Association of American Universities, we have attempted to specifically understand the position of minority women as students and faculty in science and engineering as legal challenges to affirmative action increase, including in science and engineering fields.

AAAS staff continues to publish scholarly work and give presentations on minority women in science and engineering to the extent possible, to nurture and encourage the work of other researchers.

Profiles of minority women continue to be included among those highlighted in Science Careers (, and minority women are included in projects and programs undertaken throughout the organization.

Women of Color in STEM in the 21st Century

While women of color are earning more bachelor’s (10 percent vs. 7 percent of all STEM bachelors awarded in 2009) and advanced STEM degrees (7 percent vs. 4 percent of all such degrees awarded in 2009) than men of color, there are striking differences across fields. In addition, more men of color are employed in STEM fields than women of color (data sources include the National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Completions and Fall enrollment surveys; Higher Education Research Institute, American Freshman Survey; and US Census Bureau, Current Population Survey).

•   Underrepresented minority women, like women in general, earn higher proportions of bachelor's degrees in medical and social sciences and lower proportions of bachelor's degrees in computer sciences and engineering (1989 to 2008 data).

•   Unemployment rates are higher for minority scientists and engineers than for white scientists and engineers overall and are higher for minority female than for minority male scientists and engineers (2006 data).

•   Black and Hispanic women are 2 percent of the STEM workforce, while black and Hispanic men are 5 percent. Asian women are 5 percent of the STEM workforce, while Asian men are 12 percent of the STEM workforce (2006 data).

Thirty-five years later, in 2011, as a result of a Harvard University symposium on Unraveling the Double Bind: Women of Color in STEM, Lindsey Malcom and Shirley Malcom examined the progress of women of color in STEM since the Double Bind Conference. In general, their research findings indicate that:

•   The next generation women, The Double Bind Daughters, face different challenges…the responses required being less about the actions of the women, individually or collectively, and more about the responsibilities and action (or inaction) of institutions.

•   Community colleges and all types of institutions play an increasing role in the STEM education of minority women.

•   Minority women faculty are more likely to be in two-year colleges and non-doctoral granting four year colleges, and they spend more time on instructional activities versus research.

•   Between the 1970’s and now, there have been numerous legal challenges to special STEM educational programs for minorities and women.

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