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National Science Foundation Reports Low Minority Representation on STEM Faculties

By Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

October 24, 2011

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A recent U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) study found that minority doctoral holders are still poorly represented as faculty members at U.S. institutions, even as the number of minority students has climbed over the last 20 years.

"Both minority doctorate numbers and minority faculty numbers remain low, especially in the leading research institutions," according to the NSF report. "Data on [science, engineering, and health (SEH)] doctorate recipients show that Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, as a group, earned about 3,300 SEH doctorates from U.S. universities in 2008, 9 percent of all SEH doctorates."

The study also found that minority faculty members are less likely to receive full professorships, less likely to win tenure, and less likely to work at research universities with very high research activity, compared to non-minority faculty. The report highlights the need for minority candidates to navigate the system more wisely in order to reach higher ranks.

In addition, the NSF report found that lower percentages of Black, Hispanic, and Asian doctoral faculty with SEH doctorates are full professors, with a larger percentage being assistant professors.

From Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
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