National Society of Black Physicists
Paul Gueye, President, National Society of Black Physicists
This report was provided by the Women in Physics Committee (WIP) of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) to address the suggested topics:
• Trends in your organization’s data on women of color, including education and employment data The data used for this report was gathered from our largest annual activity (i.e., NSBP annual meeting) held in February most years. Our conference attendees for 2009 included 310 students of whom 127 were women. Nearly all the students attending the NSBP conferences are African Americans and Hispanic Americans, with perhaps twenty from other ethnicities. Graduate and undergraduate students are included in this population. We have not analyzed our data regarding attrition and employment of our women members.
• Challenges or barriers experienced by women of color in their education and professional career pathways and the policies and/or programs implemented by your organization to enhance their career progression.
NSBP attempts to provide a safe, inviting, and supportive environment for all of our members. We have a committee that is specifically addressing the needs of our women members and is currently chaired by Jarita Holbrook.
NSBP has successfully employed two methods of supporting its women members: aiding and facilitating individual careers, and supporting group activities.
1. NSBP is best known for its annual meeting, which brings together primarily African American scientists, in addition to a diverse community of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty and people in industry studying and doing research in physics and related fields. These annual meetings have been an important resource for our women to network and to build a professional support system. The friendships that are made cannot be overlooked and have been important for the morale of our women. NSBP has always made a special effort to feature women prominently in the conference program, a point emphasized by the former President of the National Science Teachers Association, Dr. Carolyn Randolph, in her keynote address at the 2003 NSBP conference. Since then, many women have been invited or plenary speakers at the NSBP conferences such as: Ellen Ochoa, Hazel O'Leary, and South African Minister of Science, Naledi Pandor. At the 2007 NSBP conference, there was a dedicated luncheon panel that was organized specifically to address the issues surrounding women in physics.
2. In 2005, NSBP supported the participation of five of its members plus the then-President of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) in the Second International Union of Pure and Applied Physics International Conference on Women in Physics (IUPAP/CWIP) in Brazil. This action was motivated by the fact that no person of color
was part of the NSF-funded and American Physical Society-organized U.S. delegation. Since then, NSBP members Elaine Lalanne, Apriel Hodari, Jarita Holbrook, Herman White, Theda Daniels-Rice, Jami Valentine, Ivy Krystal Jones, Christophe McCray and Elvira Williams, along with NSHP's Luz Martinez- Miranda have all been U.S. delegates to subsequent IUPAP/CWIPs. The catalyst for the 2005 delegation, Renee Horton, was then a graduate student at University of Alabama, and rose in such prominence that she served as the Co-Chair of the fourth IUPAP/CWIP conference in Cape Town, South Africa. She also served a term as Chair of the NSBP Women in Physics Committee.
3. NSBP has the capability of managing grants for our members primarily for recruiting, retaining, and promoting the careers of African and African American scientists. One of our current grants from the Kellogg Foundation has allowed us to support the careers of two of our women: Drs. Jarita Holbrook and Nia Imara. Through this grant, both traveled to South Africa to teach in an astronomy program focused on diversifying astronomy in South Africa (NASSP).
4. NSBP members actively support the careers of our women by fostering summer research opportunities, postdoctoral and research positions, and encouraging them to apply for permanent positions. Our members are very proactive in keeping our women working as scientists as well as working together to find the support needed to stay in the sciences. The students tend to identify their own mentors but equally our senior members reach out to students also.
Key policy recommendations to the external communities represented at the conference (e.g., federal agencies and institutions of higher education) that would support your organization’s efforts to increase the career satisfaction of women of color and retain them in the scientific academic workforce. The Women in Physics Committee of the National Society of Black Physicists supports the following suggestions made by the Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) in their 2009-2010 biennial report that emerged from their mini-symposium on Women of Color in STEM, which we see as particularly relevant and helpful to our members.
Suggestion 1. Invest in developing women of color leaders in STEM, through efforts that include 1) Providing leadership training to midlevel professionals in academia, industry, and government; and (2) Providing funding for senior women of color to visit campuses that would not otherwise have access to these mentors.
Suggestion 2. Restructure grant funding so that a portion is withheld until a follow-up report is submitted by the grantee on how the broadening participation component of the broader impacts criterion will be met.