In late 1994, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide advice on how to ensure diversity in its future science and engineering work force in order to meet the needs of anticipated naval science and engineering specialties. Discussions led to the creation of a two-part study, culminating in this report.
Part One of the report examines the characteristics of the science and engineering (hereafter referred to as S&E) work force at ONR headquarters and in the national pools of experienced and recent S&E graduates. It also examines recruitment and hiring practices at ONR and the current work environment for scientists and engineers. It identifies short-term activities that the Navy can undertake to address recruitment, retention and attrition, utilization, and career development of the female, minority, and disabled scientists and engineers in ONR's work force.
Part Two of the report examines ONR's educational programs (its "corporate programs") and recommends ways they can be strengthened to enhance their overall effectiveness. It also identifies ways these programs can help increase the diversity of the nation's overall pool of scientists and engineers working in areas of relevance to the Navy and, where possible, the diversity of scientists and engineers working at ONR.
The racial and ethnic groups targeted here are the primary groups that continue to be underrepresented in science and engineering fields: U.S. citizens who are African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians. Because there is only one member of a minority group (an African American) in ONR's S&E work force and only three persons with disabilities, the bulk of this analysis focuses on differences by gender.
The Office of Naval Research has for 50 years been in the forefront of research and development in this country, especially in the physical sciences and engineering. In some regards, however, ONR's status may be in jeopardy. As ONR leadership recognized in requesting this study, the agency has not yet created a diverse work force. In order to remain the premier R&D agency it has been, ONR must meet the challenge of diversity with the same commitment and determination with which it pursues new research endeavors.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In late 1994, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide advice on how to ensure diversity in its future science and engineering work force in order to meet the needs of anticipated naval science and engineering specialties. Discussions led to the creation of a two-part study, culminating in this report. Part One of the report examines the characteristics of the science and engineering (hereafter referred to as S&E) work force at ONR headquarters and in the national pools of experienced and recent S&E graduates. It also examines recruitment and hiring practices at ONR and the current work environment for scientists and engineers. It identifies short-term activities that the Navy can undertake to address recruitment, retention and attrition, utilization, and career development of the female, minority, and disabled scientists and engineers in ONR's work force. Part Two of the report examines ONR's educational programs (its "corporate programs") and recommends ways they can be strengthened to enhance their overall effectiveness. It also identifies ways these programs can help increase the diversity of the nation's overall pool of scientists and engineers working in areas of relevance to the Navy and, where possible, the diversity of scientists and engineers working at ONR. The racial and ethnic groups targeted here are the primary groups that continue to be underrepresented in science and engineering fields: U.S. citizens who are African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians. Because there is only one member of a minority group (an African American) in ONR's S&E work force and only three persons with disabilities, the bulk of this analysis focuses on differences by gender. Part One: Increasing Diversity in ONR's Work Force The Office of Naval Research has for 50 years been in the forefront of research and development in this country, especially in the physical sciences and engineering. In some regards, however, ONR's status may be in jeopardy. As ONR leadership recognized in requesting this study, the agency has not yet created a diverse work force. In order to remain the premier R&D agency it has been, ONR must meet the challenge of diversity with the same commitment and determination with which it pursues new research endeavors.
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The National Pool of Scientists and Engineers The committee examined national data on both experienced and recently graduated scientists and engineers in order to determine the number and characteristics of individuals most likely to be eligible for positions at ONR. The pool of experienced S&Es included U.S. citizens who received a Ph.D. between 1960 and 1989 in one of the following: biological sciences, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences, physical sciences, and relevant fields within psychology, along with recipients of master's degrees in engineering during the same time period. Overall, there are 40,400 Ph.D.s and 23,800 master's recipients who are women, underrepresented minorities, or disabled persons in the national pools of experienced scientists and engineers. Women represent almost 15 percent of the Ph.D.s, ranging from 24 percent in the biological sciences to 9 percent in the physical sciences to 3 percent in engineering. Experienced African American, American Indian, and Hispanic Ph.D.s total 7,300 or about 3 percent. The percentage of Ph.D.s in science and engineering who are disabled is less than 1 percent. Among experienced engineers with master's degrees, women constitute 6 percent. Underrepresented minorities are 2 percent of the population, and persons with disabilities less than 1 percent. The data on degree recipients since 1990 show a much more diverse population. Women now receive 30 percent of the Ph.D.s in the fields under study here, including 22 percent in the physical sciences. They have also doubled their share of the master's in engineering to 13 percent. Minorities have increased fairly evenly across fields and now constitute nearly 5 percent of the total. There are 18,500 female, minority, and disabled Ph.D.s who were educated between 1990 and 1995 in fields of potential interest to ONR. In addition, there are 9,300 members of these underrepresented groups who received master's degrees in engineering between 1990 and 1993. Combined with the population of experienced scientists and engineers, the committee believes ONR has an increasingly rich resource from which to draw in the future for its program officer and senior manager positions. ONR's Current Science and Engineering Work Force The scientific and engineering work force at the headquarters of ONR consists of 150 individuals. This work force includes 19 members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and 4 GS 16 chief scientists who, for purposes of this study, will be grouped together and referred to as ''senior executives.'' It also includes 127 program officers at the GS 13, GS 14, and GS 15 levels. The basic demographic characteristics of the work force are relatively homogeneous. All 23 senior executives are white males. Of the program officers, 111 are male and 16 are female; 12 are Asian Americans and one is African American. Other than the one African American, there are no underrepresented minorities. Three individuals report having physical disabilities. As would be expected, the doctoral degree dominates the educational background of the work force, especially at the higher grades. All but one senior executive hold a doctoral degree. Sixty-three percent of the male program officers
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and 53 percent of the female program officers in the data base also have doctoral degrees. With 78 percent of the work force, the physical sciences and engineering clearly dominate the fields of employment, reflecting ONR's mission and its current portfolio of research and development activities. Forty-four percent of the 16 women at ONR work in one of these two areas. Overall, 75 percent of the S&E employees work at the GS 15 or senior executive level; half of the women work at this level (all GS 15s), with the other half primarily at the GS 13 level. The committee noted that a high percentage (79 percent) of employees listed the federal government as their most recent employer prior to coming to ONR, mostly from the Navy. By contrast, only 8 percent of the experienced Ph.D.s from underrepresented groups nationally, and 12 percent of the master's recipients in engineering, work for the federal government. Three-quarters of these individuals work in academia or industry. If ONR is to identify and attract female or minority candidates from the national pool of experienced personnel, it will have to recruit more vigorously in these other sectors. Current ONR scientists and engineers who have had some work experience outside the Navy could help in these efforts. From 1994 to 1995, ONR hired 18 scientists and engineers: 11 men and 7 women. As a whole, both the educational level and the grade of the males were higher than that of the females. ONR is to be commended for successfully recruiting seven women in the past two years; these new hires represent almost half of the entire female S&E work force. The agency needs to be careful, however, not to concentrate new women into positions from which they are less likely to be promoted or rise to positions of leadership. The picture for minorities is not so positive; none of the 18 recent hires was a member of a minority group, and the committee could not find any evidence that ONR has yet risen to the challenge of finding and making the extra effort to recruit them. In comparing the representation of women at ONR with those in the national pools of experienced and recent scientists and engineers, the committee concludes that ONR meets or exceeds a reasonable goal of comparability in the biological sciences, engineering, and math and computer science. Improvement is needed in the physical sciences where only 3 percent of the ONR work force is female, compared with 9 percent in the pool of experienced Ph.D.s, and in the cognitive sciences where ONR's 12 percent of women is significantly below the 34 percent in the national pool. Assuming ONR maintains its current size, the hiring of an additional ten women would bring its overall percentage of female scientists and engineers to 17 percent, comparable to the 15 percent in the pool of experienced Ph.D.s and the 30 percent of recent doctorates. Separate efforts will need to be made to recruit or promote at least two or three women (9-13 percent) into the senior executive ranks, regardless of field. Because of the presence of only one underrepresented minority at ONR, little can be said about the comparison of the ONR work force with the national pools. Across all fields, a minority population at ONR of five to six scientists and engineers would approach the 3-4 percent in the overall pools.
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Recruitment and Hiring In order to understand recruitment and hiring, the committee examined current ONR practices and reviewed 13 "case files" of hiring actions completed in 1993-95. Recruitment efforts appear to be very uneven and quite dependent on the preference of the selecting official, including whether there will be recruitment at all, how open it will be, and how much advertising will be done. Positions that were advertised only in the Washington, D.C. area, or restricted to individuals already in the Navy, had little chance of attracting a diverse pool of applicants, especially for senior positions. The committee could find little evidence of concerted efforts to bring women or minorities into the recruitment pools. Advertising was generally limited to a few standard venues, some of which are mandated. Of the nine cases where the job vacancy was advertised and the number of applications is known, the total number of applications for many of these positions was surprisingly low: 210 total applications, or about 23 per position. No minorities or persons with disabilities were hired for any of the vacant ONR positions, although no data were available on how many were in the pool of applicants. In their individual interviews, male program officers and senior executives expressed a number of opinions about the recruitment and hiring of women and minorities. Many stated that ONR was "bending over backwards" to promote diversity, but that there was an inadequate supply of minority and female applicants nationally. Others expressed concern that hiring more minorities and women would dilute the strength of the ONR work force and lower quality. Some stated that ONR could not compete successfully with industry or academia for minority and women "stars." Others, however, believed that diversity will strengthen ONR and that more aggressive measures need to be taken. Female program officers generally believed that an adequate effort to recruit outside the organization was rarely made. Others observed that women do not apply for senior-level jobs at ONR because they believe the positions are "hard-wired" for men. Although the number of cases is small, the picture drawn by recent hiring actions is not consistent with the view expressed by some senior executives and program officers that ONR is "bending over backwards" to promote diversity. ONR has made progress in recruiting a more diverse work force, but the committee believes there are many resources that have not yet been tapped. The Work Environment The committee's understanding of the work environment for ONR scientists and engineers is based primarily on 71 interviews conducted with employees by an outside consultant. In spite of long hours and the perception of inadequate staff support, most ONR employees interviewed reported that this is the best job they ever had. In general, the women were less satisfied than the men, except in the area of income. Many women believed they are treated as second-class citizens, and some saw the work environment as hostile. White males generally saw the environment as supportive. Most saw no difference in the treatment given to women and minorities from that given to white males, and many
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believed that ONR was doing what it could to increase diversity. Whether fact or perception, such significant differences in employees' views of the same organization are counterproductive and undermine the ability of the agency to function as an integrated unit. A number of program officers, especially women, described an atmosphere in job interviews, briefings, meetings, and competition for funds that was adversarial or confrontational. Many senior executives were emphatically committed to the adversarial approach to communication, stating that the ability to argue successfully for one's budget priorities is essential in a sometimes hostile bureaucratic environment, and that imposing this kind of hurdle on job candidates is important to finding the right people. Whatever their mode of communication, a number of scientists and engineers do not relate to the prevailing management style and perceive that they have a difficult time at ONR. Providing a work environment that is supportive of all employees, not just those in the dominant groups, is critical to productivity. ONR has initiated a number of activities in the past two years to increase the diversity of its S&E work force, including a comprehensive diversity plan and a standing diversity committee. Significant strides have been made, but much remains to be done. Recommendations The Chief of Naval Research should assume the responsibility to develop specific, numerical targets for the hiring of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities into science and engineering positions at ONR. These targets should be based on a periodic assessment of the underutilization of qualified individuals from these groups, using data from national pools. The Chief of Naval Research should appoint an external committee composed of individuals who are experienced in the management of science and engineering and sensitive to the issues of diversity to assist ONR in achieving its diversity goals. Reporting to the Chief of Naval Research, the committee would meet periodically to review the targets ONR has set and to evaluate progress against those goals. ONR should expand its recruitment efforts and improve the hiring process to increase the likelihood that members of the target groups will learn about positions at ONR will apply, and will be given serious consideration. ONR should improve the work environment to increase productivity, to enhance employee development, and to establish ONR as a place where women and minorities want to work. Part Two: Using ONR's Corporate Programs to Enhance Diversity Observations on ONR's Corporate Programs Like most other mission agencies, the Office of Naval Research administers a substantial portfolio of multidisciplinary research and education programs that support its mission as a whole. The purpose
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of these corporate programs is to increase the number of engineers and scientists engaged in technological efforts of concern to national defense and, specifically, to the Navy. There are sixteen programs relevant to this discussion, comprising an annual budget of $35 million. They include high school apprenticeships, supplementation to research grants, graduate fellowships, support for postdoctoral researchers and young investigators, and awards to bolster science and engineering at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs). The committee was generally impressed with the breadth of educational programs ONR administers and with the dedication of its program staff. While these programs do not directly address ONR's primary mission of research and development, they are important to achieving that mission by helping to develop the scientists and engineers who will solve the Navy's technical challenges in the future. ONR's corporate programs are relatively young, typically beginning in the early 1980s as fellowship programs. The HBCU/MI programs, especially, are only a few years old. The committee's impression is that these programs evolved historically as the Navy perceived a need, or as Congress mandated a particular activity, and while each is worthwhile in its own right, they do not necessarily form as coherent a set of programs as they might. Some of the programs are extremely small; some are restricted to specific geographic areas like the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which is close to ONR headquarters and several Navy facilities. Others are limited to the HBCUs and a smaller number of MIs. They need to be related in a coherent structure to a single set of goals and should reach science and engineering talent nationally. Recommendations ONR should create a single, coherent vision for the corporate programs, tied more closely to the mission of ONR. ONR should realign its corporate programs to provide a continuum of educational opportunities from high school through postdoctoral study. ONR should use broader criteria for recruitment and selection. ONR should extend support for minority students and faculty beyond the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs). ONR should collect systematic data on program participants to allow for ongoing program evaluation. ONR should use the programs for postdoctoral researchers to recruit more aggressively for potential ONR employment.