Overview ^

This report, the 10th in a series of Congressionally mandated biennial publications, documents both short- and long-term trends in the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment. Its primary purpose is as an information source; it offers no endorsement or recommendations on policies or programs.

The report aims to examine changes in participation since the first report in this series was released in 1982. Despite the many changes that have occurred since then, several of the findings reported therein (NSF 1982) continue to hold true. Among these are the relatively small percentages of women and minorities who earn science and engineering degrees and who are employed in science and engineering, the concentration of women and minorities in specific fields, the higher rates of part-time employment for women, the lower salaries earned by women and minorities, and the lower percentages of women in full professorships.

Specific concerns ^

The report also presents data related to some specific concerns raised in the last few years:

Broad demographic characteristics of the U.S. population ^

Data on the demographic composition of the population are often useful in comparing the relative percentages of groups (men and women, various racial/ethnic groups, and persons with and without disabilities) participating in science and engineering education and employment. By way of background, text tables 1 and 2 provide data on the numbers and percentages of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in the U.S. population by age group. In 1997, women were roughly half of the resident population of the United States. Whites were 73 percent, blacks 12 percent, Hispanics 11 percent, Asians/Pacific Islanders 4 percent, and American Indians/Alaskan Natives less than 1 percent of the population. Blacks and Hispanics constituted higher percentages of the younger population (those less than 25) than of the older population. The Census Bureau estimates that in 1994--95, about 20 percent of the population had some form of disability and about 10 percent had a severe disability.[1] The percentage of the population with a disability increases with age.

Racial and ethnic categories ^

In October 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced new government-wide standards for the collection of data on race and ethnicity.[2] Previously, racial/ethnic groups were identified as white, non-Hispanic; black, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; Asian or Pacific Islander; and American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Because the old standards were in effect when the data for this report were collected, the racial/ethnic groups described in this report are those designated in the old standards. In text and figure references, these groups are referred to as white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian. Where data collection permits, subgroups of the Hispanic population are identified (e.g., Mexican, Puerto Rican).

In chapters 1 to 4, data on enrollments and degrees by race/ethnicity are presented for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. This is because some of the underlying surveys do not collect race/ethnicity data for people with temporary visas. In chapter 5 (Employment), no distinctions by citizenship are made. Less than 2 percent of employed scientists and engineers have temporary visas.

Organization of this report ^

This report is organized into five chapters. The first four examine differences between men and women, among racial/ethnic groups, and between persons with and without disabilities in four areas of science and engineering education: undergraduate enrollment, undergraduate degrees, graduate enrollment, and graduate degrees. The fifth chapter examines science and engineering employment.

Because extensive information on precollege science and mathematics education is available elsewhere,[3] and because no new data on elementary and secondary science and mathematics achievement and course taking have been released since the previous version of this report, precollege science and mathematics education are not addressed here. Note, however, that differences (between men and women, among racial/ethnic groups, and between students with and without disabilities) in science and mathematics achievement, as measured by elementary and secondary assessment test scores and college entrance exams, and differences in science and mathematics course taking can become a basis for differences in postsecondary science and mathematics education, employment, and technological and science literacy. For a detailed explanation of differences by sex and race/ethnicity in precollege science and mathematics proficiency and coursework, see NSB (2000). For information on the precollege education of American Indians and Alaska Natives, see Characteristics of American Indian and Alaska Native Education (NCES 1997).

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Data sources, availability, and reliability ^

The data underlying this report come from a number of Federal and non-Federal sources, primarily surveys conducted by the National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resources Studies and the National Center for Education Statistics.

To the extent possible, long-term trends are examined herein. The availability of trend data, however, differs depending on the groups examined and the specific data series in question. For some groups and some data-for example, science and engineering degrees granted to women-longer time trend data are available; for others-for example, science and engineering employment-the time series are much shorter. Most of the data presented are through the year 1997, the latest available as of the writing of this report.

Statistical reliability ^

Some of the data sources used in this report are sample surveys and therefore have differing degrees of reliability. This report states differences in comparisons of groups or in trends in the data over time only if they are statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level (i.e., the reported difference could be due to chance only 5 or fewer times in 100). Where possible, the impact of nonsampling errors such as incomplete coverage and nonresponse has been taken into account in the report's analyses. For more information on the statistical reliability, limitations, and availability of the data presented in this report, see appendix A, Technical Notes.

References ^

National Science Board (NSB). 2000. Science & Engineering Indicators-2000. NSB 00-1. Arlington, VA.

National Science Foundation (NSF). 1982. Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering: 1982. NSF 82-302. Washington, DC.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 1997. Characteristics of American Indian and Alaska Native Education. NCES 97-451. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Office of Management and Budget. 1999. "Draft Provisional Guidance on the Implementation of the 1997 Standards for the Collection of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity."



[1] Estimates of the proportion of the population with disabilities vary due to differing definitions of the term "disability." See appendix A for a discussion of the limitations of estimates of the size of this group.

[2]  These new standards, published in the Federal Register as "Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity" (62 FR 58781--58790), superseded OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, "Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting," which had been in place since 1977.

[3] See, for example, current National Center for Education Statistics reports at

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