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Science Careers Blog

November 1, 2007

Not Many Minority Faculty in the Sciences, a New Study Says

From Inside Higher Ed:

A new survey of the top 100 departments in 15 science and engineering disciplines (including the social sciences) finds that “few science and engineering departments have more than a single [underrepresented minority] faculty member.” Despite the increased representation of members of minority groups among bachelor’s and Ph.D. degree recipients, the analysis finds that the proportion of black, Hispanic and Native American instructors generally drops at every point in the academic pipeline, with the majority of minority faculty members concentrated at the assistant professor level.

The study by Donna Nelson, chemistry professor at the University of Oklahoma, holds no surprises but offers no good news, either. Nelson surveyed the "top departments" in the sciences, finding that in some cases--like computer science--things are getting worse. The representation of underrepresented minorities on top faculties varies from horrific--2.2% in astronomy--to pretty bad--13.5% in sociology. Nearly 30% of the U.S. population is from these groups.

The news for women is less awful but it's still pretty depressing. For example, women earn more than 50% of B.S. recipients in chemistry, but just 13.7% of chemistry professors in top departments. Here, at least, the trend is in the right direction.

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