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Table E-17-1 Percent minority women among US college graduates by degree and discipline, 2009.

Baccalaureate Master's Doctorate
Sociology 25.8 17.2 10.1
Biological sciences 19.6 12.1 8.8
Chemistry 16.8 9.6 5.7
Political science and public administration 15.8 16.8 8.7
Economics 9.9 5.1 2.9
Math and computer science 7.4 4.8 2.8
Engineering 5.6 4.8 2.8
Physics 3.6 2.2 1.3

Source: IPEDS Completion Survey by Race, 2009. Available at

An important factor in the strong representation of women of color in sociology is the discipline’s core fields of research. They include: social inequalities of race, ethnicity, class, and gender; medical sociology; sociology of culture; sociology of education; occupations, organizations, and work; and sociology of the family. Sociologists conduct scientific research in these areas Women of color are more likely than men of color to participate in the ASA and in these special interest sections.

ASA has supported programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to increase the representation and eventual career success of men and women of color in the discipline. Two of the most successful programs are known by their acronyms, MOST and MFP.

At the Undergraduate Level

During 1993-1994, ASA began an innovative effort to foster diversity and excellence in higher education by working with individual undergraduate sociology departments to bring about systemic changes that impact the participation and place of minority students in the discipline. The Minority Opportunities through School Transformation program (MOST) helped departments bring about organizational change by specific changes in the curriculum, mentoring, research, training, climate, and pipeline. Eleven sociology departments participated in this 8-year program, ranging from liberal arts colleges to large research-extensive universities.

MOST emphasized increased rigor in scientific methods, direct research experiences, and the integration of content on race, ethnicity, class, and gender in all courses and aspects of the curriculum; the responsibility of all faculty members in a department to mentor all students; a departmental climate sensitive to diversity; and increasing the number of undergraduates of color going to graduate school. The outcomes of this program were overwhelmingly positive, as the course offerings including diversity content doubled and the percent of minority students who graduated increased from 18 to 33 percent. ASA published a monograph of “best practices” and principles so that other departments, regardless of discipline, could pursue similar models.32


32 Levine, Felice J., Havidan Rodriguez, Carla B. Howery, and Alfonso R. Latoni-Rodriguez. 2002. Promoting Diversity and Excellence in Higher Education Through Department Change. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

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