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CHAPTER 1


INTRODUCTION

Representation in Science and Engineering
Scope of This Report
Organization of This Report
Data Sources
References

Representation in Science and Engineering

Women
Minorities
Persons With Disabilities

The Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act of 1980 declares that

it is the policy of the United States to encourage men and women, equally, of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds to acquire skills in science, engineering and mathematics, to have equal opportunity in education, training, and employment in scientific and engineering fields, and thereby to promote scientific and engineering literacy and the full use of the human resources of the Nation in science and engineering. [1]

Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities [2] are underrepresented in scientific and engineering occupations. (See figure 1-1.) Some progress has been made over the last several decades, especially in the number of degrees awarded to women, but there is still room for improvement. Women and underrepresented minorities- blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians-take fewer high-level mathematics and science courses in high school; earn fewer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in science and engineering; and are less likely to be employed in science and engineering than are white males.

See appendix tables 1-2 and 1-6.

Women

Women constitute 51 percent of the U.S. population, [3] and 46 percent of the U.S. labor force (see appendix tables 1-2 and 1-4), but only 22 percent of scientists and engineers in the labor force. (See text table 1-1.) Women, particularly white women, are approaching parity among science and engineering bachelor's degree recipients. In 1993, 45 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in science and engineering were women, up from 39 percent in 1983. (See appendix table 3-25.) Women, though, are less likely to choose science and engineering than they are to choose other fields. Women were 58 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in non-science and engineering fields in 1993, compared with 45 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in science and engineering. (See figure 1-2.) Within science and engineering, women are still concentrated in a few fields-predominantly the social sciences. Women earned more than half of the bachelor's degrees in psychology and social sciences, but only about one-third of the bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physical sciences, and 16 percent of bachelor's degrees in engineering.

a Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Division, Release PPL-8, U.S. Population Estimates, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 1990 to 1993.
bSource: Bruno and Adams, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports P20-479, October 1994. Includes persons 18-24 only. Hispanics are included in both the white and black population groups. See appendix table 1-3.
cFigures by race/ethnicity are for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. Sources: National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-93, Selected Data on Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, Fall 1993, and Selected Data on Science and Engineering Doctorate Awards, 1993.
dSource: National Science Foundation, National Survey of Recent College Graduates, 1993. Excludes full-time graduate students.
e Source: National Science Foundation, National Survey of College Graduates, 1993. See appendix table 1-5.
fSource: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1993. Americans With Disabilities: 1991-92: Data From the Survey of Income and Program Participation, P70-33.

See appendix tables 3-25 and 4-19.

Women earn a smaller proportion of master's and doctoral degrees than they do of bachelor's degrees. Far fewer women than men are enrolled in graduate science and engineering education or earn doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Women were 36 percent of graduate enrollment in science and engineering in 1993 and were 30 percent of science and engineering doctorate recipients. (See appendix tables 4-8 and 4-24.)

Because of their more recent entry into science and engineering as well as a greater tendency than men to be out of the labor force and to be employed outside of science and engineering, women are only 22 percent of the science and engineering labor force. Also because of their more recent entry into science and engineering, far fewer women than men attain the rank of full professor in academia or attain management positions in industry.

Minorities [4]

Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians have historically been underrepresented in science and engineering. Asians, on the other hand, are overrepresented in science and engineering. Asians were 3 percent of the U.S. population, but 5 percent of U.S. citizen doctorate recipients in 1993. Underrepresented minorities as a whole were about 23 percent of the U.S. population. Blacks constituted about 12 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics about 10 percent, and American Indians about 1 percent. (See figure 1-3.) Although they are as likely to choose science and engineering fields as other fields, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are less likely than whites to earn bachelor's degrees. (See figure 1-4.)

See appendix table 1-2.

See text table 1-1.

As a group, they are only 12 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in science and engineering, as they are of bachelor's degree recipients in all fields. Steady progress has been made in these groups' share of science and engineering degrees. In 1985, blacks were 5.2 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in science and engineering, Hispanics were 3.7 percent, and American Indians were 0.4 percent. By 1993, the fraction of science and engineering bachelor's degrees earned by blacks increased to 6.7 percent, by Hispanics to 5.0 percent, and by American Indians to 0.5 percent. [5] (See figure 1-5.)

See appendix table 3-27.

Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are more likely to earn degrees in the social sciences than in the natural sciences or engineering. More than half of the bachelor's degrees earned by members of these groups were in social sciences. (See appendix table 3-28 and figure 1-6.)

See appendix table 3-27.

Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians, who constitute 6 percent of the total science and engineering labor force, are disproportionately likely to earn degrees in the social sciences and to be employed as social science practitioners, for example, as social workers or clinical psychologists, rather than in social sciences per se.

Persons With Disabilities

Persons with disabilities are also underrepresented in science and engineering. About 20 percent of the population have some form of disability; about 10 percent have a severe disability.[6] Data on participation of persons with disabilities are less available than data on other groups (for example, no data on bachelor's degrees in science and engineering by disability status are available). The data that do exist, though, point to a small proportion of persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment. In 1993, persons with disabilities were only 6 percent of undergraduate enrollment, 4 percent of graduate enrollment, 1.3 percent of science and engineering doctorate recipients, and 6 percent of scientists and engineers in the labor force. [7] (See figure 1-7.)

See text table 1-1.

Factors influencing participation by women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering are varied and complex. They include, among others, differences in access to educational resources, differences in economic status, differences in interest (choice), cultural barriers, and lack of encouragement. [8]


[1] Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act, Section 32(b), Part B of P.L. 96-516, 94 Stat. 3010, as amended by P.L. 99-159.
[2] See appendix table 1-1 for federal definitions of disability categories.
[3] As of July 1993. Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, PPl-8, U.S. Population Estimates, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin, 1990 to 1993. Includes persons residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.
[4] In accordance with Office of Management and Budget guidelines, the racial/ethnic groups described in this report will be identified as white, non-Hispanic; black, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; Asian or Pacific Islander; and American Indian or Alaskan Native. In text and figure references, these groups will be referred to as white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian. In instances where data collection permits, subgroups of the Hispanic population will be identified by subgroup name.
[5] U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
[6] Estimates of the proportion of the population with disabilities vary because of differing definitions of "disability." See Appendix A Technical Notes for a discussion of the limitations of estimates of the size of this group. The source of these estimates is the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 1993. Americans With Disabilities: 1991–92: Data From the Survey of Income and Program Participation, P70-33.
[7] The incidence of disability increases with age. More than half of doctoral scientists and engineers who indicate they have a disability became disabled at age 35 or older. See appendix table 5-43.
[8] See, for example, Oakes, Jeannie. 1990. Lost Talent: The Underparticipation of Women, Minorities, and Disabled Persons in Science. Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation.


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