June 16, 2005 11:23 AM PDT

Minorities make small gains in science jobs

The proportion of minorities in science occupations has inched up over the past 10 years, but progress is slow-going, according to a new study released this week.

Hispanics have made the most progress, but remain among the most underrepresented minorities, said the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that conducted the study. Hispanics now account for about 5.3 percent of all U.S. science professionals, up from 3.7 percent 10 years ago. Yet they make up nearly 13 percent of the entire U.S. work force.

The picture for blacks is slightly better. They hold about 6.2 percent of the nation's science jobs while accounting for 10.7 percent of the work force. But their participation has fallen since 2000, when black participation edged above 7 percent.

The commission that authored the report, entitled "Sisyphus Revisited: Participation by Minorities in STEM Occupations, 1994-2004," called for renewed efforts to remedy the situation.

"The lack of significant progress by underrepresented minorities in STEM (scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical) occupations does not necessarily mean that efforts to fix the problem have been in vain," Richard Ellis of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology said in a statement.

"But it does show that there remains much room for improvement, and it underscores the need for full-scale evaluations on efforts to date to increase minority participation in STEM occupations," he said.

The group included a broad number of occupations in its definition of science and technology jobs, including computer programmers, engineers, chemists, biologists, technicians and college faculty. It did not include any medical occupations.

A highlight of the study is the fact that black women hold remarkably more science jobs in proportion to their minority group than other women. They account for more than a third--35.4 percent--of all black workers in science in technology. Not accounting for race, women represent just a quarter of the overall science work force.

On the flip-side, 10.6 percent of blacks employed in the sciences hold less prestigious jobs, such as lab technician--a greater proportion than any other race considered in the study. Just 4 percent hold managerial positions.

The commission used data from Bureau of Labor Statistics' population surveys for the study and received funding for the project from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Tell us something new
A large proportion on the minority communities have been neglected, since forever, and their communities forced to rot. Key among that neglect, is a nation wide problem: education.

Education is being neglected across the board in America, but it is worse in poor communities, which are mainly non-white. How can someone from that situation improve themselves, when the glaring lack of quality education is denied?

Personally, I really don't care what percentage of whom is in any profession. That is something that is irrelevant. But the cause of statistics in reports like this is not.

I think the idea of affirmative action and quotas, while good intentioned is actually making things worse for everyone, and is more then slightly insulting. It may help overcome some peoples prejidices, but it frequently causes under-qualified people to be hired, and who does that help? No one, not even the underqualified person. It also hurts the qualified minority applicant, as he/she is often assumed to have been hired because of skin color or sexual organs.

No matter what your goal is. Better qualified people, or better representation, the answer is the same: better education for all. Somehow there is never money for this endevor, yet we can find a few hundred billion dollars to fight an illegal war, started to make a few rich men richer. Funny how we can never find money for the important things. Imagine what kinds of reforms in education could have happened.

Our country will never get out of its funk without serious attention to education.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Here Here
I was planning a responese to the story but found it had already been written.

Posted by winmanjr (11 comments )
Link Flag
Aren't Asian's Minorities too?
In the article about this study, Asians once again have been left out of the discussion and focus has been given surprisingly to the "majority" groups amount the so-called "minorities". I downloaded the report for the commission's website and in that study are statistics about Asian's that the author has conveniently excluded in the article. Here's the result : while Asian's represents only 4% fo the labor force, they represent 10-11% of the STEM jobs. Asians face the same discrimination if not more, than Hispanics and African Americans. The low percentage of the latter minority groups is thus not due to discrimination. Using the same logic that the author purpots, we can claim that Asians are is an under-represented minority in professional sports, entertainmnet media, as well as professional music.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.