Summary

Joseph S. Francisco

Purdue University

and

Isiah M. Warner

Louisiana State University

A Congressional Commission reported in 2000 that the United States faces a critical shortage of technically skilled workers for a society that increasingly relies on science and technology, although the shortage could largely be ameliorated if women and minorities were brought into the technical workforce.1 The report specifically suggested that if “. . . the United States continues failing to prepare citizens from all population groups for participation in the new, technology-driven economy, our nation will risk losing its economic and intellectual preeminence.”2 Such concerns, mirrored in many such reports,3 led the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to organize two workshops to explore ways that the chemistry and chemical engineering communities could respond to these workforce issues. The first workshop, “Women in the Chemical Workforce,” was held in 2000,4 and the present report summarizes the presentations and discussions of the second workshop, “Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work.”

The historical background for minority participation in the workforce is best documented for African Americans. For example, as late as 1987, African Americans made up less than one percent of all U.S. citizens who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. This fraction has increased over the last decade, but for the year of 1999, of the 2,134 Ph.D.s awarded in chemistry in the United States, only 56 went to African Americans.

However, the modest increases in Ph.D. degrees are not reflected by representation across the workforce. It was recently reported that the top research-intensive chemistry departments have very few

1  

Land of Plenty: Diversity as America’s Competitive Edge in Science, Engineering and Technology, Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, 2000 (http://www.nsf.gov/od/cawmset/report/cawmset_report.pdf).

2  

Ibid., p. 1.

3  

See, for example, The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent, Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST), 2002 (http://www.bestworkforce.org/PDF_docs/Quiet_Crisis.pdf).

4  

Women in the Chemical Workforce. A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.



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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable Summary Joseph S. Francisco Purdue University and Isiah M. Warner Louisiana State University A Congressional Commission reported in 2000 that the United States faces a critical shortage of technically skilled workers for a society that increasingly relies on science and technology, although the shortage could largely be ameliorated if women and minorities were brought into the technical workforce.1 The report specifically suggested that if “. . . the United States continues failing to prepare citizens from all population groups for participation in the new, technology-driven economy, our nation will risk losing its economic and intellectual preeminence.”2 Such concerns, mirrored in many such reports,3 led the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to organize two workshops to explore ways that the chemistry and chemical engineering communities could respond to these workforce issues. The first workshop, “Women in the Chemical Workforce,” was held in 2000,4 and the present report summarizes the presentations and discussions of the second workshop, “Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work.” The historical background for minority participation in the workforce is best documented for African Americans. For example, as late as 1987, African Americans made up less than one percent of all U.S. citizens who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. This fraction has increased over the last decade, but for the year of 1999, of the 2,134 Ph.D.s awarded in chemistry in the United States, only 56 went to African Americans. However, the modest increases in Ph.D. degrees are not reflected by representation across the workforce. It was recently reported that the top research-intensive chemistry departments have very few 1   Land of Plenty: Diversity as America’s Competitive Edge in Science, Engineering and Technology, Congressional Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, 2000 (http://www.nsf.gov/od/cawmset/report/cawmset_report.pdf). 2   Ibid., p. 1. 3   See, for example, The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent, Building Engineering & Science Talent (BEST), 2002 (http://www.bestworkforce.org/PDF_docs/Quiet_Crisis.pdf). 4   Women in the Chemical Workforce. A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.

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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable minority faculty. Of more than 1,600 faculty at the 50 departments studied, only 22 were Hispanic and 18 were African American. Each of these minority groups constitutes about 1 percent of the total faculty, although African Americans and Hispanics earned 2.4 and 3.0 percent, respectively, of the Ph.D. degrees awarded in chemistry over the preceding decade. The numbers for Native Americans are even lower, with this group earning only 0.4 percent of the Ph.D. degrees awarded in chemistry.5,6 The workshop “Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work” was organized to explore how the chemical science community could respond to this challenge. Of the workshop’s three sessions, the first was a general overview that examined why diversity is important for the chemical science community and how and where the value is added. The second session looked at the pipeline issue beginning at the undergraduate level through graduate school. Are there lessons to be learned from successful pipeline producers that can be replicated at other universities to increase the number from the pipeline? The third session focused on successful activities in industry to attract and retain minorities to the chemical workforce. Are there valuable lessons that universities could learn from industry? In addition to presentations by invited speakers, there were discussions within breakout groups focusing on whether there are opportunities for change and, if so, what they are. CONTEXT AND OVERVIEW Clifton Poodry (National Institute of General Medical Sciences) opened the session with a presentation on the importance of diversity and why it has been an important agenda item for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1998, the Clinton administration set forth a national goal to eliminate long-standing disparities in health that affect racial and minority groups. In the process of addressing this goal, several important questions were raised. As related by Dr. Poodry, these are “Why focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities who are trained as biomedical researchers? Can the problems of health disparities not be solved as well by people of any ethnicity? Does representation matter?” Two observations made the NIH feel that representation matters. In the field of health, when experts are from nonminority groups, there is reluctance for minorities to participate in research or clinical trials that could lead to new treatments for these groups. Moreover, the presence of a significant number of minorities in a field often increases its legitimacy, as well as increases the value of its work in the perception of the public. These observations provided the motivation for the NIH to develop a talent pool of underrepresented minorities, while not denying opportunities to nonminorities. Dr. Poodry described two key elements for success in increasing the pool of talented underrepresented minorities that the National Institute of General Medical Sciences has discovered through its minority programs: to devise programs that focus on outcomes rather than individuals and to assist educational institutions in preparing and graduating increased numbers of minority students. Sylvia Hurtado (University of Michigan) addressed the issue of preparing students for a diverse democracy. Dr. Hurtado noted that in the workplace, organizations find that managing diversity is becoming increasingly important. In the business world, working groups that have more diverse perspectives and diverse people exhibit greater creativity. As a result, there is less “groupthink,” and different viewpoints emerge—including the nature of the questions asked. In the context of preparing students, Dr. Hurtado raised the questions of what cognitive and social skills are needed, and can these 5   Nelson, D.J. The Nelson Diversity Surveys. Norman, OK, 2002 (http://cheminfo.chem.ou.edu/faculty/djn/diversity/top50.html). 6   Chemical & Engineering News, June 4, 2001, 79(23):67.

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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable skills be identified? In a nine-year longitudinal study of 8,000 white students who grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods across 184 different colleges and university campuses, there were some interesting findings. Those students who went to colleges with greater minority populations subsequently embraced diverse friendships, lived in diverse neighborhoods, and tended to seek employment with companies that had a diverse workforce. They also showed more civic involvement. The study showed that students who had frequent interaction with diverse peers during their college years’ demonstrated greater intellectual, social, and civic engagement during and after college. The empirical research indicates that diversity is an asset to learning and new thinking that is needed in the workplace. Dr. Hurtado concluded that colleges and universities can play key roles in preparing their students for a diverse democracy by the extent to which they create the climate, the diversity of the learning environments, and the extent to which individuals in the diverse environments can engage. Cornelia D. Gillyard (Spelman College) discussed training and preparing African American women for careers in chemistry. She offered a unique perspective from two vantage points: first, Spelman is an HBCU, the acronym for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and second, it is an all-women’s college. Professor Gillyard reported that the rate at which Spelman graduates African American women with B.S. degrees in chemistry was not always as high as the current level. Even though Spelman is a 120-year-old institution, its chemistry department was not established until 1977. Thus, the number of chemistry faculty and students was originally small, but a major change took place. Professor Gillyard outlined the initiatives implemented by the faculty that set the stage for its current success as a department. It involved visionary leadership, faculty commitment to the vision, and departmental leadership that included alteration of its divisional infrastructure, recruitment of talented students, instituting unique mentoring programs, and providing research opportunities for the undergraduates. Another significant catalyst for change in the chemistry program at Spelman was the recruitment of a faculty that looked like the students. This had two important consequences. First, it engendered a bonding relationship between students and faculty, and second, the students developed greater confidence and self-esteem. In the short 25-year history of the department, 26 students from the Spelman chemistry program have gone on to earn Ph.D.s in chemistry and related fields. At least 25 more students are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs around the country. Professor Gillyard highlighted goals for future improvements. These include broadening the research experience and using collective faculty expertise more effectively to secure extramural funding. UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE EDUCATION Michael F. Summers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) presented an overview of the Meyerhoff Undergraduate Scholars Program. This is one of the most successful programs in this country for preparing minority students to enter Ph.D. programs in the sciences. Over the thirteen years of the Meyerhoff Program’s lifetime, more than 95 percent of its participating students have earned a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering, or mathematics. Why is the Meyerhoff Program successful? Summers gave much of the credit to the program’s pioneer, Freeman Hrabowski, currently president of the University, who recognized a major misconception about the pipeline of minority students. While many have believed that there are few minority students who are interested in science, the opposite is true. The Meyerhoff Program demonstrated that there are large numbers of talented and qualified minorities with an interest in science, engineering, and mathematics. However, a large number of these students lose interest early in their college careers. A strong attribute of the Meyerhoff Program is that it was designed as an intervention. Critical and essential elements of the program include a summer bridge program designed to provide time-management and group-study skills to the incoming students; mentoring by

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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable faculty and by minority mentors outside the university; and research experience for the students. Studies conducted at UMBC found that students who qualified for the Meyerhoff Program but enrolled elsewhere did succeed in college. But a much smaller fraction of that group graduated in science, engineering, and mathematics. Careful nurturing during the freshman year of these students could significantly impact the talent pool available for graduate school. Professor Summers also highlighted a new program modeled after the Meyerhoff, but aimed for graduate student training. He concluded with the suggestion that these programs could be replicated elsewhere in ways that would have a substantial national impact on the recruitment and training of underrepresented minorities in science. Steven F. Watkins (Louisiana State University) provided an overview of the history of the chemistry department at LSU and how it came to be the leading producer of African American Ph.D. chemists. In 1990, the majority of students in the graduate program were international students of mostly Asian descent. Prior to 1991, only four African Americans had been awarded Ph.D. degrees in chemistry at the LSU main campus. Subsequently, the faculty made a conscious decision to recruit domestic students as well as hire an African American faculty member. Another element to LSU’s success in its minority program is its close proximity to HBCUs in a state where a third of the population is African American. LSU found that minority students were the best recruiters for other minority students who visited the department. Professor Watkins reported that the LSU chemistry faculty confirmed earlier results that the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not a good predictor of success in graduate school, and they were successful in convincing the graduate school that this is the case. Other measures were found to be more useful in selecting graduate students. Professor Watkins highlighted the importance of mentoring and support, and the need for a diverse faculty; these factors have enhanced the success rate of graduate students at LSU. About 60 percent of the students graduate with a Ph.D. degree, another 20 percent leave with a master’s degree. The numbers are too small for reliable statistics, but Dr. Watkins indicated that the African American students may have a success rate that is above the average. Freeman Hrabowski (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) presented an informal lecture following the workshop banquet. He provided a highly personal view of his experiences in preparing minorities for research careers in science. In a series of anecdotes, he described the origins of the Meyerhoff Program and other efforts at UMBC in support of minority education in the sciences. He provided background by relating some of his personal experiences as a young man learning firsthand the challenges that he would face as a minority entering the field of mathematics. He related several stories that made clear to the audience the importance of his leadership in creating a highly challenging atmosphere at UMBC—an atmosphere that is at the same time supportive and designed to encourage academic success for minorities in the sciences. THE CHEMICAL WORKFORCE D. Ronald Webb (Procter & Gamble) discussed the problem of academia having a diverse workforce within its institutions. He brought out the fact that 30 years ago industry looked like academia today. However, industry—and specifically P&G—saw this as a problem and made a conscious decision to change. Dr. Webb outlined his view of the important steps for a company to successfully embrace diversity. At P&G, a corporate commitment to change was made from the top down. Moreover, the CEO went a step further and developed a diversity leadership council that tracked and measured how organizations within the company were doing in achieving their goals. This council reported directly to the CEO; and accountability is a key to the company’s success. Dr. Webb described the four R’s of

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Minorities in the Chemical Workforce: Diversity Models that Work - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable diversity as recruit, reward, recognize, and retain. Each of these was discussed in the context of how it contributed to increasing diversity within the company. James D. Burke (Rohm and Haas, retired) discussed the differences between affirmative action and diversity. He noted that affirmative action is a means to ensure equal employment opportunity, but often is viewed as a mechanism by which some advance at the expense of others. In contrast, Dr. Burke argued that diversity is a deliberate business strategy for a company, one that is viewed as a business opportunity to improve the workforce, invigorate innovation, and spur customer appeal. He argued that culturally diverse teams foster intellectual diversity, which in turn leads to more robust and profitable solutions to problems and convergent decision making. Dr. Burke suggested that diversity has given new life to organizations and, in most cases, has revitalized them. Dr. Burke addressed the question of how diversity can be achieved within industry, making a series of suggestions that could be adopted by others. As a first step, employers need to articulate the business value of diversity to their units and understand where it fits into the business. They have to be visible in promoting it, and middle management has to be rewarded for supporting change at the lower ranks. Diversity should be evaluated as a performance element for every manager’s annual performance review. Dr. Burke discussed Rohm and Haas’ approach to increasing diversity by explaining a self-analysis uncovered by an internal study group. They discovered that many of their problems with recruiting minority candidates were self-inflicted. This led Rohm and Haas to redesign the process of recruiting. Dr. Burke outlined the critical components of the process and highlighted the outcomes of the program that resulted in a recruitment acceptance rate of more than 50 percent annually. He also talked about how barriers to achieving diversity can be broken down. He highlighted examples of other industrial organizations where these barriers were broken down very quickly by proactive top management.