advancement of women of color. Current BMES leadership headed by the Executive Committee (President and other officers) and the Board of Directors is diverse in its membership and fully committed to diversity and inclusion. Of the 6-member Executive Committee, two are women and one, the President Elect, is African American. Of the 12 elected directors on the Board of Directors, 7 are women. Through its strategic planning process, BMES established specific diversity goals and objectives, namely to promote lifelong high quality education and career advancement of a diverse community of biomedical engineers. One avenue toward meeting these goals is to increase participation of women and underrepresented minorities. To that end, luncheons and professional development workshops celebrating women and minorities are now offered routinely at annual meetings, winners of the Diversity Award are invited to serve on the Diversity Committee for a 3-year term, travel awards have been established for underrepresented minorities, in partnership with the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a mentoring program for women and underrepresented minorities is under development, in partnership with the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, an educational program on translational research will be offered to faculty with special encouragement to women and minorities to participate, and BMES has recently hired an Education Director to oversee development and implementation of education and outreach activities and programming.
The power of individual and organizational commitment and of the presence of strong women of color as role models is illustrated by an interchange between Dr. Barabino and a student at the 2010 BMES annual meeting after Dr. Barabino delivered her Diversity Award plenary lecture. During the Q&A, a female African American BME graduate student stood up to say that she was moved by the lecture on a number of levels; in all of her years of schooling she had never had an African American female professor and had never heard a lecture by one. She was able to relate to shared experiences and most importantly, she was inspired with a sense that she could make it, too, by having a role model who shared her heritage and gender. Dr. Barabino was moved by the experience as well and has remained in touch with the student as a mentor and career advisor. She invited the student to attend a sickle cell disease symposium at Georgia Tech that she organized a month after the BMES annual meeting. That symposium gave the student an opportunity for mentoring, networking, socialization into the discipline and expansion of her scientific knowledge; during their regular e-mail correspondence, the student reported to Dr. Barabino that she is excelling in her research and becoming active in organizing student activities for professional development, mimicking her role model and mentor. Though this interchange described here is anecdotal, the role modeling and mentoring that occurred has been noted in the literature as key factors that promote the career success of women of color.
Historically, women faculty of color have experienced barriers to participation in the academy, and not until the Civil Rights Movement did their foray into the academy begin to increase. To date the numbers are disturbingly low, and career progression for women faculty of color is disturbingly slow. In engineering, recent data compiled by the ASEE reveal that as of Fall 2010, of the 24,419 engineering faculty in ABET accredited programs, 3,232 were women, and of those women, 119 were African American, 20 of whom were full professors, 39 of whom were associate professors, and 60 of whom were assistant professors. The barriers facing women of color in the academy are well documented, and policy implications to mitigate these barriers deserve immediate and forceful attention. Low numbers and inherent biases contribute to the marginality, invisibility, isolation, heavier burdens, and retarded career progression that women faculty of color face. Legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Title IX Law of 1972, and the Equal Opportunities for Women and Minorities in Science and Technology Act of 1981