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The National Academies’ ad hoc Committee on Advancing Institutional Transformation for Minority Women in Academia convened a two-day public conference to review the existing research on education and academic career patterns for women of color in science, engineering, and medicine. The conference focused on model practices and programs that recruit, retain, and advance women of color with a recognition that not all programs may work effectively for different ethnic and racial groups. This topic is important as while the numbers of women pursuing higher education in science, engineering, and medicine has grown (including the number of women of color), there is still a relatively small number of women of color faculty in all institutions of higher education. The conference agenda (Appendix B) was based on (1) a systematic review of relevant research literatures to enhance understanding of the barriers and challenges to the full participation of all women of color in STEM disciplines and academic careers; (2) identification of reliable and credible data sources and data gaps in order to better understand the critical transitions where women of color are lost; and (3) identification of the key aspects of exemplary policies and programs that are effective in enhancing the participation of women of color in faculty ranks.


The organization of this summary follows that of the conference’s plenary sessions. The conference provoked not one but a number of different conversations among the participants, conversations that tracked more and less closely to the conference’s primary goal. This summary focuses on the discussions clearly aligned with the conference’s goal of maximizing American talent. The report starts with presenting statistics on the career pathways of women of color faculty in academia (Chapter 1), followed by a panel discussion from four women of color faculty who help articulate a subset of core issues and challenges for women of color in STEM disciplines (Chapter 2). It then summarizes the multiple marginality that women of color often experience in STEM research and education in Chapter 3. To seek solutions together with various stakeholders, the report includes a discussion on the roles of professional societies and federal agencies in Chapter 4 and 5, respectively. It proceeds with highlighting exemplary strategies and programs from minority serving institutions as well as non-minority serving institutions in Chapter 6. The public discussion following each plenary session generated a rich variety of exemplary practices and successful strategies, as did the breakout sessions. Where recommendations and suggested strategies were closely related to a plenary session, they have been summarized with that session. The remaining strategies and exemplary practices pertinent to the conference goals are grouped thematically in Chapter 7.

Two research papers were commissioned for the conference and are included in Appendix A. As part of the conference planning process, written testimonials were solicited from a wide range of professional societies and federal agencies, which were asked to comment on their own efforts to maximize American talent by supporting talented women of color in the relevant fields and to describe broader needs that they see for supporting outstanding women of color in STEM fields overall. The testimonials are included in Appendix E, and they are preceded by tables indicating the topics addressed by each.

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