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Study: Black Women Falling Behind in STEM Fields


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Logo of the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

A new study has found that women of color are significantly underrepresented in academic STEM positions, accounting for just 2.1 percent of STEM faculty at four-year colleges and universities in the U.S.

Credit: Institute for Women's Policy Research

Women of color, especially black women, are significantly underrepresented in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) positions, even as the U.S. focus on STEM education intensifies, according to a study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

In 2010, minority women professors accounted for 2.1 percent of STEM faculty at four-year colleges and universities in the United States, although they represent 13 percent of the U.S. working-age population. The study also found that 6,400 women of color with STEM doctorates hold assistant, associate, or full professorships, compared with 19,800 white women, 20,500 men of color, and 65,100 white men. The life sciences field employed the largest number of underrepresented minority women faculty, while computer science and mathematics employed the least.

The report cites hostile work environments, insufficient mentorship, difficulty with work-life balance, and the lack of a multicultural perspective in many academic departments as factors that limit women of color in academic STEM careers.

To improve the situation, the report recommends providing targeted funding to women of color, changing hiring and promotion policies, offering culturally sensitive mentors, and creating a scorecard system to gauge the diversity progress of institutions.

From New Pittsburgh Courier
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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