Upping the Numbers
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis
Chapter 5: Voices of the Future: African-American PhD Candidates in the Sciences
Daryl E. Chubin A CHRONIC PROBLEM FOR US SCIENCE America’s science and engineering (S&E) workforce barely resembles the rest of America. The gender and ethnic composition of the general US population and workforce is far more diverse. Why is the increasingly diverse student population not opting for S&E careers? Students select careers based on a combination of interests, aptitude, role models, market inﬂuences, (mis)information and luck. Graduate and professional schools select students based on a set of indicators (mainly standardized test scores and college performance), perceptions and expectations that are similarly ﬂawed. (For more on this, see www.bestworkforce.org/PDFdocs/BEST_ BridgeforAll_HighEdDesignPrincipals.pdf.) We don’t measure ‘potential’ well. This is especially injurious to those who have not historically participated in these professions, notably minority students, who are a growing segment of the student population. Stereotyping and self-fulﬁlling prophecies crush aspirations and undermine development of America’s diverse talent pool of African-American, Latino, American-Indian students, and those with disabilities (see www.aaas.org/standingourground). The pattern for African Americans, observed for over half a century among US students, is bleak. The workforces of medicine, law, business and S&E remain overwhelmingly non-minority (www.cpst.org). According to Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: Summary Report 2004 (www.norc.uchicago.edu/issues/docdata.htm), Fewer than 2000 African American citizens and permanent residents earned PhDs in science and engineering ﬁelds. That represents 7 percent of the total awarded in S&E, with African American women earning almost twice as many as men. By broad ﬁeld, African Americans represented 1.6 percent of the...
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