Marye Anne Fox (Moderator)
Chancellor, North Carolina State University
Welcome to a very important symposium entitled, “Who Will Do the Science of the Future? A Symposium on Careers of Women in Science.”
I am Marye Anne Fox, and I will moderate the discussion today. I do so at the request of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on which I currently serve as a member.
Every year at the annual meeting the women members of the NAS get together to discuss issues facing members of groups underrepresented in the Academy's membership. Unfortunately, that meeting is quite small. So, we are very pleased today to welcome to this session a larger group, including both our colleagues in the NAS and many other guests. All of us in the National Academy of Sciences thank you sincerely for being here.
It is striking that if you look at university populations today, compared with the nation's demographic distribution, you will find
significant differences between the student body and the general population. In particular, these differences are quite evident by race and ethnic group. If you continue the same exercise to other university groups, moving from students through the faculty and through the administrative leadership you will find that these differences become ever more obvious.
Think, for example, about various academic groupings, first the students, then the faculty, then the tenured faculty, then chaired professors, then the upper administration, and then members of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. You find a group distribution that is increasingly white and increasingly male. And, significantly, these distortions have persisted despite more than three decades of people of goodwill working hard at opening access and opportunity to all.
To look at the academic future, one should focus on the graduate student population. Although this group has traditionally been dominated by white males, you will find fewer white males in the current group than was true 20 years ago, since there are increasingly numbers of foreign nationals, as well as more women and members of ethnic and racial groups. Fewer native-born men are pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering. Hence the question, the title of the seminar, “Who Will Do the Science of the Future?” at a time when the demographic trends in this nation predict native-born white males to be a minority group in the very near future.
In that context, our program incorporates three panels of presentations: one focusing on the next generation, Science for All Students; a second that looks in depth at the issues reflected in one particular field of science, computer science, reflecting an in-depth view of academic and industrial computer scientists; and a third that focuses on strategies and policies to recruit, retain, and promote career advancement for women scientists. Finally, we will have a plenary address on how to ensure women continue to advance into positions of leadership in science.
We will begin with remarks from Dr. Bruce Alberts, the President of the National Academy of Sciences and Chair of the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. Dr. Alberts is a respected biochemist, recognized for his work in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is noted particularly for his extensive study of protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated as required for a living cell to divide. In addition, he is the principal author of “The Molecular Biology of the Cell,” which is considered the leading textbook in its field, and is widely used in colleges and universities here and abroad.
Dr. Alberts has long been committed to the improvement of science education, having dedicated much of his time to educational projects such as City Science, a program seeking to improve science teaching in San Francisco elementary schools. He has served on the Advisory Board of The National Sciences Resource Center, a joint project of the National Academy of Sciences and the Smithsonian Institution, that works with teachers, students, and school systems to improve the teaching of science, as well as on the National Academy of Sciences ' Committee on Science Education, Standards and Assessments.