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APPENDIX C SUMMARY OF INTERVIEWS WITH ONR PROGRAM OFFICERS AND SENIOR EXECUTIVES
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Part I: Background and Methodology Scope This report, prepared in consultation with Karen Bogart who conducted the interviews, summarizes the results of interviews with program officers and senior executives in the science and engineering work force in the headquarters of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia. The first set of 45 interviews was conducted with a sample of women, minority males, and white males employed as GS 13, GS 14, and GS 15 program officers. The second set of 26 interviews was conducted with senior executives and division and department heads, all of whom were white males. The Study Sample Program Officers Study participants were drawn from the ONR science and engineering (S&E) work force, whose members numbered 150 in February 1996. The original study sample encompassed all women, all minority males* (Asian Americans and African Americans), and a sample of white males selected to match the ONR job codes (fields of specializations) from which minorities and women were drawn. Sample participants initially included 16 women, 9 minority males, and 26 white males for a total of 51. In March 1996, two participants who had inadvertently been miscoded were added, bringing the total study sample to 53. Members of the study sample were contacted in November 1995 and asked to participate in a self-report survey conducted by mail. In the original mailing they were also advised that they would be contacted at a later date to schedule a 90-minute follow-up interview. In January 1996 prospective interview participants were contacted by e-mail and voice mail and asked to participate in an interview. Senior Executives In April 1996 all 27 senior executives at ONR were added to the study sample. This group was made up of the 19 members of the official Senior Executive Service (SES) and 8 senior managers. The SES members included 5 department directors who together constitute the Science and Technology Advisory Board (STAB). The department directors develop and implement science policy and represent ONR to Congress and to the Pentagon. Below the department directors were 14 SES members whose numbers included 12 division heads and 2 associates. The division heads have primary responsibility for recruiting, hiring, and promoting program officers. They administer people rather than programs, in contrast to the program officers whom they supervise. Among the senior managers who participated in the interviews were 4 chief scientists (GS 16s) whose focus is primarily on science rather than on administration (they do not recruit, hire, review, or promote) and 4 division and department heads employed at the GS 15 level. Study participants were contacted in April/May 1996 and asked to participate in a self-report survey conducted by mail. In the original mailing they were also advised that they would be contacted at a later date to schedule a 90-minute follow-up interview. In May 1996, prospective interview participants were contacted by e-mail and voice mail and asked to participate in an interview. * Editor's note: Although Asian Americans are not underrepresented in science and engineering, they were included in the interviews in order to gather information from a broad spectrum of ONR personnel. The phrase "minority males" as used in this Appendix, therefore, refers to all non-white males, including Asian Americans.
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The Respondents Out of 53 members of the survey sample of program officers, 2 were out of the area and unavailable. Of the 51 remaining, 45 participated in interviews: 14 females, 9 Asian American males, 1 African American male, and 22 white males. Twenty-six out of 27 members of the survey sample of senior executives participated in interviews. One senior executive declined to participate. The Interview Process The interviews of the program officers were conducted in confidence in a private office provided by ONR's Office of Human Resources in a different building from the one in which all but two of them worked. The interviews of the senior executives were conducted in the offices of the respondents, or, at their request, in nearby conference rooms. The interviews were tape recorded with the explicit understanding that a record was being made for reference purposes only, and that only the interviewer would listen to the tapes. Once the notes were complete, the tapes were destroyed. Three program officers and two senior executives asked that no tape recording be made. All interview tapes were taken off-site for playback. The interview protocol (appended to this report) was constructed as an inductive or ethnographic interview based on 12 questions with multiple probes. The protocol included an informational interview calling for facts; an attitudinal interview inviting the expression of attitudes, opinions, and beliefs; and a critical incident interview calling for examples of behaviors or events illustrating best and worst experiences that (1) program officers attributed to their being women, minority males, or white males or that (2) senior executives related to race or gender. In addition, the senior executives were asked to respond to each question, not only by describing their own experience, but also by describing how they were using their leadership to promote diversity. Respondents were articulate and cooperative. Although some interviews lasted only 30-45 minutes, many respondents took the time to discuss every issue at length, with the result that many of the interviews lasted 90 minutes. Several program officers returned a second tune, and a number of program officers and senior executives stated that they were available to help if there was a further need for their input. As a result, more than 60 hours of tape-recorded interviews and notes with program officers and more than 40 hours of tape-recorded interviews and notes with senior executives were generated. Methodological Considerations No generalization accurately describes every member of each group because of differences both among and within groups with regard to every issue addressed. There was greater heterogeneity in responses among the white male program officers than among female and minority program officers, making categorization and frequency counts of responses to the primary questions difficult. Senior executives often expressed multiple view points simultaneously (e.g., emphasizing the positives and the negatives associated with diversity), making categorization and frequency counts of responses to the primary questions difficult. The interviewing approach used was inductive. As such, it focused not on responses to questions that could be answered positively or negatively, but on eliciting the range of individual and organizational behaviors that influence the experience of diversity in the ONR work place.
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The interview was designed to capture the interviewee's perception of what needs to be changed or of what is discriminatory and what is not. Part II: Summary of Interview Results with Program Officers The context within which scientists and engineers work at ONR and the constraints imposed by this context should be kept in mind as findings are reviewed. ONR is the premier research funding organization of the Navy with a long and distinguished history of funding basic and applied research, especially at universities and federal laboratories. The S&E work force at ONR headquarters is comprised of senior scientists and engineers who serve both as science administrators overseeing multimillion-dollar funding programs and as scientific researchers conducting their own research programs. The many benefits associated with ONR include the opportunity to contribute to new knowledge by funding cutting edge research in a program of one's own design; the capacity to make funding decisions without peer review; high rank (more than two-thirds are employed at the GS 15 or senior executive level); high salary (although many interview participants were quick to point out that salaries in industry are often higher); numerous opportunities for professional development; relative job security; and the elite status of belonging to the premier science and engineering research funding organization of the Navy. ONR reorganized approximately two years ago and merged with two other offices—the Office of Naval Technology (ONT) and the Office of Applied Technology (OAT). Since that reorganization, the focus has been on the integration of basic research with application to the fleet. Attitudes Toward the Work Environment Women, minorities, and white males commented on the many opportunities for professional development and the flexible work-family arrangements. Women and minority males particularly praised the value ONR placed on professional ethics and scientific integrity. Members of all three groups described ONR as "the best job" that they have had, citing specifically their ability to fund promising new research and development and to conduct their own research. Women and minority scientists at ONR are sophisticated about diversity issues in the science and engineering work force. The Diversity Committee, initially appointed in December 1994, has analyzed the problems faced by female and minority scientists at ONR and proposed solutions. Women at ONR have formed chapters of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and WSEC (Women in Science and Engineering Council) to address issues of diversity. An invitation in 1994 to Nora Slatkin, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to attend a luncheon organized by WISE resulted in action to improve the status of women and minorities at ONR. Many of the women referred to the differences between "the white male culture" and the "culture of minorities and women." The white male culture was described as hostile, aggressive, argumentative, competitive, and vocal. The culture of minorities and women was
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described as cooperative, nurturing, quiet, and reflective. Some female Ph.D.s who have been at ONR for a number of years perceived themselves to be second-class citizens whose contributions are not valued. Rather than reporting the experience of being at ONR as positive or neutral, they described the environment as hostile. Some non-Ph.D. women with similar years of experience at ONR also reported dissatisfaction. Some women were interested in senior executive status but have had no opportunity to be promoted. Others were less interested in management than in making a difference as scientists or engineers. Women and minorities described ONR as "paying lip service to diversity," and several reported little evidence of serious intent to improve the status of minorities and women. White males described a very different ONR characterized by friendliness, camaraderie, and "bending over backwards to promote diversity," an organization in which the best candidates are recruited, hired, and promoted, regardless of gender or race and ethnicity. The experiences of white males appeared to be more variable than the experiences of women and minorities, making efforts to describe them in terms of broad generalizations more difficult. Not every white male was satisfied with his experience at ONR, although most described a far more sanguine climate than was reported by the women or minorities. For some—although by no means all—of the white males interviewed, promotion to senior executive status is a coveted prize for successful performance. Others, however, described little interest in managing people, as distinguished from overseeing research programs. Attitudes Toward Diversity Many males perceived that the pool of women and underrepresented minorities (African Americans and Hispanics, in particular) for positions at ONR was very small. Other male respondents reported that qualified women and minorities were out there, but that serious efforts to recruit them were not being made. There was a consensus that science and engineering education was a critical issue, especially for underrepresented minorities. In this connection, attention was called to ONR's HBCU/MI program. The women and men who are committed to diversity principles believed that the problems women in particular face will be solved only as more women are actively recruited to ONR more women are promoted or hired directly into senior executive positions senior women (and men) take on formal roles as mentors to junior women women take on visible senior roles representing ONR to the scientific and engineering community outside ONR men are required to interact with female scientists and engineers in positions of authority Of these various activities, recruitment of women and mentoring appeared to be at the top of the agenda.
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Part III: Summary of Interview Results with Senior Executives Attitudes Toward Diversity There was a consensus among most senior executives that there is a need to increase diversity when it is defined as the recruitment of more women and underrepresented minorities to ONR Although there was little awareness of the hostile, aggressive, or argumentative behavior reported by some female program officers, several senior executives acknowledged that they would not necessarily be aware of such behavior even if it did exist since staff were careful about how they behaved in their presence. Several did admit that the ONR environment was fast paced, competitive, and "bottom-line" driven, but they also stated that it was that way for men as well as for women. And several were emphatic that certain aspects of the ONR culture should remain the same, especially the use of an adversarial approach in recruitment interviews and in meetings. Two sentiments predominated regarding the recruitment of diverse populations: The first saw diversity as strengthening ONR by bringing a variety of viewpoints to bear on the scientific and engineering enterprise itself. This group stated that diversity will advance the enterprise in a way that homogeneity of perception and experience cannot. The second feared that diversity would dilute the strength of ONR, particularly if it meant lowering standards of technical competence in order to achieve it. Two broad approaches to achieving diversity in recruitment were discussed: The first reached out to encourage outstanding senior women and underrepresented minorities in academia, industry, and government to come to ONR on a permanent basis. Efforts in this direction have not succeeded to date. The second approach involved "growing one's own" by encouraging mid-level minority and female scientists and engineers from universities and the Navy laboratories to accept temporary positions as IPAs and detailees, with the idea of recruiting from this pool. It also involved encouraging new minority and female Ph.D.s to accept positions in Navy laboratories since it was perceived that they were less likely to want to take on such positions later on in their careers. This is the approach that ONR has been taking, although it has not produced the kinds of results that most senior executives expected. A variation of this approach involves bringing in senior female and minority scientists or engineers from academia and industry for a few months to occupy a special "chair" created for this purpose. This was recently tried for a first time, but with a senior white male university professor. For the most part, the discussion focused on the recruitment of women rather than underrepresented minorities (e.g., African Americans and Hispanics). The consensus among most senior executives was that there is an exceedingly small pool of underrepresented minorities in the science and engineering fields of interest to ONR; that few members of these racial and ethnic populations enter technical fields; that the numbers in fields such as physics were, if anything, declining; and that ONR could not compete successfully with academia and industry or even other government agencies for the very small numbers of outstanding scientists and engineers drawn from these populations.
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Interview Guide Staff from the National Research Council will conduct interviews with a sample of ONR staff during December 1995 and January 1996. In preparation for these meetings, those to be interviewed have been asked: (1) to consider what they perceive to be the formal policies and informal practices that may, inadvertently, perpetuate inequities in the experiences of scientists and engineers—male and female, minority and white, physically disabled and those with no physical disabilities; and (2) to reflect upon their own experiences and to tell us whether they have ever experienced or witnessed events illustrating either especially equitable or fair policies and practices or differential treatment of scientists and engineers on the basis of gender, race/ethnicity, or physical ability. We especially want to know how conditions, policies, and practices at ONR differentially affect those whose perspectives (and backgrounds) are different. Conditions, Policies and Practices 1. Understanding ONR as an Organization. Would you say that you have a good understanding of how ONR works (policies and procedures) formally and informally? How have you gotten this information? 2. Valuing Diversity in the Science and Engineering Work Force. What conditions, policies, and practices need to change in order to achieve diversity—i.e., increased representation of targeted groups (women, racial/ethnic minorities, and the physically disabled)—in ONR's science and engineering work force? What history and traditions may have perpetuated, perhaps unintentionally, a science and engineering work force that is predominantly white male, especially at senior management levels? 3. Access to ONR: Advertisements, Recruitment, and Hiring: How were you recruited for your position—for example, through an informal network, by a search committee, or in response to a position announcement? What were the terms and conditions of your original employment with ONR? Were these, as far as you know, competitive with those offered other ONR employees in your professional discipline (series)? What should be done to attract members of the three targeted groups to your field? What would you do to recruit them to ONR? 4. Annual/Periodic Review and Promotion: Do you know what you have to do to be promoted? Are there easily accessible mechanisms (e.g., ombudsperson, other dispute mediator, or written procedures) for formal or informal appeal of decisions related to annual/periodic review? Does ONR or its departments review the evaluation process periodically to determine that men and
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women, minority and non-minority, are evaluated equally stringently (e.g., as measured by a study of similarities and differences in level of research, ratings or other indices)? Are you satisfied with the review and promotion process? If not, what changes would you recommend? 5. Professional Development: What opportunities exist at ONR for your professional development? Why have you (not) participated in ONR's Research Opportunities for Program Officers Program? What opportunities do you have for upward mobility? Are your opportunities less than, equal to, or greater than those of others? Why do you say that? Do restrictions in professional development opportunities contribute to a staffing pattern in which women and racial/ethnic minorities are concentrated in junior and mid-level management positions while men dominate senior management? If so, what do you believe can be done about this? 6. Work-Family Arrangements: How does ONR accommodate scientists and engineers who have family responsibilities? Are working conditions (e.g., long hours) forcing you to shortchange your family? What work-family arrangements would you like to see at ONR (e.g., flex time, part-time employment, child care on ONR premises, parental leave for both parents at childbirth or adoption, family leave, employee assistance with such needs as alcohol abuse and dependent care, including elder care)? 7. Discrimination: What are your experiences of especially positive treatment of women and minority scientists and engineers at ONR, attributable to equitable conditions, policies or practices of your workplace? No experiences Experience(s) described during interview What happened? Who was involved? What led to this situation? What was the outcome? Why does this appear to you to be an example of especially equitable treatment? 8. A broad range of behaviors and events perpetuate inequities for women and minorities in the workplace. What are your experiences of sexual or racial discrimination at ONR? Are there formal and informal opportunities for dissent, mediation and grievance without reprisal? Would you describe any of your experiences as "critical incidents" affecting your motivation, achievement, or other attitudes or behavior? If you have one or more examples, please take a few minutes to describe each critical incident. No experiences Experience(s) described during interview What happened? Who was involved? What led to this situation? What was the outcome (positive or negative)? Why does this appear to you to be an example of discrimination? If you knew the situation was actionable, but your decision was not to take action, why?
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9. Since joining the staff of ONR, would you say that overt discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, or other factors has: Decreased Increased Remained the same Discrimination does not occur Don't know 10. Since joining the staff of ONR, would you say that subtle discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, or other factors has: Decreased Increased Remained the same Discrimination does not occur Don't know 11. Ethics, Professional and Scientific Integrity: To what extent would you describe your working environment at ONR as ethnical, characterized by professional and scientific integrity? In responding, consider whether (1) research findings have ever been distorted, (2) scientific errors have been acknowledged or concealed, and (3) personal behavior has always been ethical and professional. 12. Physical Plant: Are you satisfied with the physical environment? Is the physical plant well maintained? Is physical space equitably allocated?
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