The National Academy of Engineering (NAE), with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), hosted a Colloquy on Minority Males in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) August 8–12, 2010, at the Mount Washington Conference Center in Baltimore, Maryland. The Colloquy was originally designed to frame a research agenda with respect to underrepresented minority males in science and engineering—African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Discussions during the Colloquy resulted in the expansion of the populations of concern to include Native Pacific Islanders (Native Hawaiians and Polynesians) and Southeast Asian Americans (e.g., Filipino, Thai, and Vietnamese) as they too are often underrepresented in STEM fields.1
The Colloquy provided a forum for the identification of research theories and methodologies to help
- frame approaches to investigate race-, ethnicity-, and gender-based factors that impact learning and sustained interest in STEM education and the STEM workforce;
- encourage research examining differences within and among specific minority male populations; and
- enhance understanding of societal as well as formal and informal educational systems’ interactions that encourage or discourage minority males’ interest and perseverance in study or work in STEM fields.2
NAE staff reviewed recent research on minority males in STEM and also sought input from the NSF to draw up an invitation list with an eye toward balancing representation of research communities and minority male populations. Participants—primarily early career researchers in STEM, education, and the social and behavioral sciences—submitted information about how their work was relevant to the Colloquy’s focus and how they hoped to leverage their attendance to further their research.
The first evening was an opportunity for the participants to meet each other and learn about their research (the agenda of the Colloquy is in Appendix B). The formal program was opened on the morning of August 9 by Caesar Jackson, Director of the Division of Human Resource Development in the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). He
1 The organizers of the Colloquy acknowledge that not all populations of minority males (e.g., Asian Pacific Islanders) were fully addressed at the Colloquy or, therefore, in this summary. This summary is intended as an initial step in future efforts to focus on engaging and encourage all populations to pursue STEM education and career paths.
2 The focus of the Colloquy was on the broad framework of STEM education and careers. The discussions in the breakout groups emphasized STEM at the K–12 and the undergraduate levels.
welcomed attendees and emphasized the importance and relevance of the topic and the Colloquy to NSF’s efforts in broadening participation in STEM education.
Next, Jolene Jesse, Director of NSF’s Research on Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) Program in the EHR Directorate, set the stage with a brief history of the GSE program. She observed that, as of the date of the Colloquy, her program at NSF which focuses on research on gender (i.e. on boys and men as well as on girls and women) had not received any proposals to address minority male participation in STEM, and that in her opinion while there had been progress on addressing girls’ and women’s participation in STEM, more research was needed on that of minority males. She presented the following goals for the Colloquy:
- To frame a research agenda on underrepresented minority males, addressing the following questions:
- ■ What do we know?
- ■ What do we need to know?
- ■ What would be key elements of an NSF solicitation to encourage research in this area?
- ■ What should be the ideal balance between research and implementation?
- To build bridges among researchers operating in different subspecialties of research on minority males with the aim of stimulating research collaborations and creating a sense of community.