activities, these did not include URM members. As a result, during the 1990s, the ASM contracted with a consulting firm to conduct focus groups among URM members and appointed a Minority Task Force of ASM members to make recommendations for enhancing URM participation. The findings led to the establishment of a Minority Education Committee under the Board of Education (1993), an Underrepresented Members Committee (UMC) under the Membership Board (1997) and a Diversity Committee within the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) (1999). The American Academy of Microbiology is an honorific leadership group within the ASM and the AAM Diversity Committee was established to increase the number of URM and women in its membership. One initiative of ASM’s UMC is an informal online mentoring program for URM members.
URM Women Microbiologists
A brief overview of advancements to AAM membership and leadership positions within the ASM and the AAM, and ASM award receipts, demonstrates little success for URM, in general, and an even lesser degree among URM women. Of the last 28 ASM presidents, 12 have been females. The first and only URM male was elected president in 2008, and no URM women have held this post, or other top leadership positions. In other metrics, URM women have extremely limited success in receiving ASM awards, with the exception, in general, of minority associated awards.
Over the past 50 years, 2700 individuals have been elected to the AAM (approximately 9-10 percent of ASM membership), but fewer than 9 (0.25- 0.30 percent) are URM women. A 2007 article by Johnson-Thompson provides an overview of African American participation in the ASM, beginning in 1921.29 Interestingly, the first African American to earn a PhD in microbiology was a female. Ruth Moore (1903–1994) earned the PhD in bacteriology in 1933 from Ohio State University. Though racial barriers prevented her attendance at some annual meetings, especially those below the Mason Dixon Line, she paid dues and attended her last meeting in Washington, DC in 1986.
For URM women some advances have included successful appointments on an editorial board, on ASM committees and as committee chairs (again, primarily on minority associated committees), elections to the AAM and award receipts. Most of the latter, too, have been minority focused awards. On the other hand, the ASM has made significant advancements in addressing pipeline issues. These have included a variety of training programs from the undergraduate to postdoctoral levels and faculty travel awards to attend the ASM General meeting. Additionally, for more than 10 years, the ASM has supported the NIH’s Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. In every facet of these programs, URM women are represented, and in some instances, supersede the number of URM men.
Recent Survey of ASM URM Women Members
Given the limited demographic data relative to URM women and the realization that their representation in ASM programs is limited, the CMIIM and CSWM conducted a brief survey in of women members in May of 2012. The purpose of the survey was three-fold: (a) to obtain a better demographic representation of URM women membership, (b) to determine if ASM was meeting their needs, and (c) to obtain information on how the ASM might best meet their needs.