Diversity Focus

Posted on August 6, 2006  Comments (0)

White men, white coats, little change by Nancy Forbes. Commentary stating that NAS’s Rising Above the Gathering Storm report (unfortunately NAS doesn’t seem to understand web usability but if you fill out this form they will allow you to get a pdf – hopefully they will learn to apply better web usability soon) does not address the lack of women in the science and engineering workforce and doctorate graduates.

as a scientist and longtime advocate of women and minorities in the field, I was surprised – and dismayed – to find diversity issues missing from the four key challenge areas.

I would like to add a fifth recommendation to the four already put forth in the academies’ report: that all members of our science and engineering community, particularly those nonfemale and nonminority members, make a personal effort to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and math. Suggestions include:

• Mentoring female or minority students through encouragement, guidance or emotional support. Studies show that those with mentors have higher salaries, more advanced positions and greater confidence in their ability to succeed.

Yes, there have been gains. Women now hold more than a quarter of all science and engineering jobs, compared with 13 percent in 1980. They now earn roughly half the doctorates in biology and degrees in medicine. Numbers are also up in physics, computer science and engineering, traditionally male domains.

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