Scientific Careers and Race

by Quendi 85 Replies latest social current

  • botchtowersociety

    You can't speak of hispanic americans as a single group. They are not.

  • moshe
    You can't speak of hispanic americans as a single group.

    They do tend to vote as a united block, in numbers large enough to make or break an election. However, in support of your view---Put a Mexican immigrant and a Cuban immigrant together on the job and see how well they get along--

  • botchtowersociety
    They do tend to vote as a united block, in numbers large enough to make or break an election.

    Not really. Cubans do not vote like Mexicans or Central Americans or Puerto Ricans.

    And they do not have the degree of economic and educational difficulty in America as other groups do. American born Cuban Americans earn more and are more educated than non hispanic whites.


    The median household income for Cuban Americans is $36,671, a figure higher than all other Hispanic groups, but lower than for non-Hispanic whites.

    In contrast, US-born Cuban Americans have a higher median income than even non-Hispanic whites, $50,000 as compared to $48,000 for non-Hispanic whites. [29]

    [edit] Education

    25% of Cuban Americans have a college education, about twice the average of all other Hispanic groups with Dominican Americans trailing by a close 22%, and lower than that of non-Hispanic whites, of which 30% are college graduates. [29]

    However, 39% of US-born Cuban Americans have a college degree or higher, as compared to only 30% of non-Hispanic whites. [29]

  • panhandlegirl

    bts, you are correct, Hispanics are very different, depending on where they came from. I am not so sure they vote as a block, but I will leave that to those who know more than I do. I am a so called "Chicana;" don't know nothing

    about Mexico. Well, yes I do. I have a BA in Spanish but am American to the core. I confess I don't know about life in Mexico through experience.Things, life was different back in the day, the younger generation of those whose

    ancestors lived in the US before Texas and the West were part of the US, is quite different today, but there are not enough of them getting educated as there are Blacks or Caucasians getting an education.

    From what I have read, Hispanics, excluding Cubans, are not even graduating from High School on a large scale. I am pro-Hispanic and would like for them to do better. What is your opinion about why Hispanics are not more

    represented in sciences or math?

  • glenster

    Does NIH Have a Bias against African-Americans?
    The NIH may be biased in ways that harm not only African-American researchers
    but any whose ideas fall outside the mainstream

    By David Kaplan February 9, 2012
    Biomedical research scientists send proposals to the National Institutes of
    Health in the hopes of being funded. A recent study of this process, published
    in Science by the University of Kansas’s Donna Ginther and her colleagues, re-
    vealed that proposals from black applicants are significantly less likely to be
    funded than proposals from white applicants. This disparity was apparent even
    when controlling for the applicant’s educational background, training, publica-
    tion record, previous research awards and employer characteristics.

    The authors conclude that racial bias is not a likely explanation for these
    findings because the race of the applicants is not provided to the reviewers.
    In an accompanying article in Science, several prominent black biomedical scien-
    tists also express doubts about racial bias, concluding that the NIH peer review
    grades only the science. But what, aside from bias, can explain the racial dis-
    crepancy? The study’s lead author admits she has no idea. Understanding what
    causes bias is essential for developing a program to address it.

    One possible explanation is that NIH peer review is structured to promote bias
    not so much against a racial group as against the unfamiliar and unconventional.
    Expert reviewers are asked to provide detailed assessments of long, highly com-
    plex, extraordinarily technical documents, and they are given little time to do
    it. The reviewers are usually conversant with the specific area of research that
    the proposal addresses, which means that they come to the application with pre-
    conceived notions. Short deadlines encourage them to rely on established know-
    ledge and sensibilities. In this scenario, reviewers are more comfortable with
    proposals from scientists they are familiar with—scientists they either know or
    know of.

    Black researchers, at least in the biomedical sciences, are often unfamiliar
    to reviewers, and their ideas may tend to be unconventional. This situation is
    in part because of their typical background. For instance, blacks and whites
    have different prevalence rates for some illnesses, such as end-stage kidney
    disease and malignant melanoma. Therefore, blacks may propose studies involving
    a different set of diseases than whites do.

    Breaking into the ranks of funded investigators supported by the NIH is in-
    creasingly difficult, the data show. The average age of recipients of a first
    major grant from the NIH had climbed to 43 years in 2007, from 35 years in 1970.
    Black scientists also tend to make up smaller and smaller minorities in higher
    branches of science. In the period Ginther and her colleagues studied, blacks
    submitted 1.4 percent of total proposals com­pared with 69.9 percent for whites.

    This statistic conforms with data collected by the National Science Foundation
    that indicate only 2.6 percent of doctoral-level biological scientists in the
    U.S. in 2006 were black. My sense is that the underrepresentation of blacks in
    biomedical research is even more definitive at the upper echelons: department
    chairs, research award winners, editorial board members, study section reviewers
    and members of the National Academy of Sciences. Because blacks have not shared
    proportionally in the power structure, it stands to reason that funding has been
    uneven, too.

    NIH directors have recognized their failure to fund unusual proposals and have
    initiated awards, such as the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award and Pioneer
    Award Program, in response. These steps, though, have not gone far enough. One
    solution might be for the NIH to establish multiple, distinct mechanisms for
    making funding decisions. A lottery, for instance, would not result in racial
    disparity in grant awards. Neither would having rigorous sampling procedures for
    reviewers or peer review by crowdsourcing. Supplementing traditional peer review
    with new ways of screening grant applications may be the only way to eliminate
    the racial gap once and for all.

    President Barack Obama has named a University of Illinois alumnus and nation-
    ally known college administrator to chair the President's Advisory Commission on
    Educational Excellence for African Americans.

  • likeabird

    "It used to be that women faced all kinds of discrimination entering fields like medicine and law. Those barriers no longer exist. Women are active in other previously male-dominated professions as well and NASA has done a great deal of work in bringing women into its fold. But for some reason, there has been a notable lack of response and participation by people of color in space science. I look forward to your comments."

    For one of my college papers, I had to study what is preventing more women from entering scientific fields, in particular at college level. Outside of the U.S. there is still discrimination against women. Some scientific college courses are made up of 75% male students (and inversely some literary courses are 75% female). The question is not so much one of discrimination, but as you say, why such a disparity, when education should be open for all?

    There are a few factors to take into consideration.

    A study was made of high school students receiving career guidance notably to pursue studies in the sciences. When girls presented themselves to the guidance officer, saying they wanted to have a career in science/study science in college, unless they had above average grades in science and maths, they would be discouraged from pursuing that course. On the other hand, the boys were consistently encouraged to pursue a scientific future, even when they had below average grades in the said subjects...

    A second factor is a cultural conditioning that starts from the moment we are born, and something that we are often not even aware of. Why is it that little girls often want to play house and princesses, and boys want more adventure, exploring, etc? Go to the toy shop and look at what is on offer for them. Another comparison was made of childrens' literature, and how boys and girls are portrayed. Often, the boy was playing outside, the girl was inside or looking out the window, her face resting on her hands, dreaming, while mom was in the kitchen washing dishes, and dad had his feet up with the newspaper.

    This same conditioning comes through in advertising, and if we are not aware of it, can effect what career choices we make, or what career advise we give to those around us.

    To test to what extent we may be affected by conditioning, try this : when you see an advertisement where a person is portrayed doing a job (any job), if it's a man, stop and ask yourself if you'd find it a bit out of place if it was a woman in his place, and vice versa if it's a woman. And to come back to the subject in question - if it's a white person, swap it for a black/asian/hispanic/...person.

    These factors and conditioning can also be at play in the question scientific careers and race. Coming back to the toy shop, this is what we'd have found on offer in the 60's :


    Here's what we're starting to offer our kids today :

    It's very important to inform young people of their choices and also make them aware of how certain factors can actually be influencing their choices without them even realising it (something we know all to well about and the consequences that can have...)

  • botchtowersociety
    Here's what we're starting to offer our kids today :

    Those old chemistry sets were way better. Mine had stuff you don't get any more. Glass tubes. Alcohol burners. Phenolphtalein.

    I had an old kid's book on science experiments written in the 50s or 60s with stuff in it that would get you arrested these days.

  • rather be in hades
    rather be in hades

    for a long time, african americans weren't allowed to attend the same niversities, schools, etc as white people. overt racism and the glass ceiling made it pretty clear that a career in an academic field wasn't really available for many african americans.

    the effects of that are still present.

    on top of that, don't richer areas get better/nicer elementary, middle and high schools? there's better resources at those schools and in those homes in general. unfortunately, we're not really present in those more affluent areas...

    thmbs up to khanacademy

  • Quendi

    Thank you, everyone, for your posts to this thread. I have found all of them thought-provoking and hope there will be more. It is clear that there are no simple answers to the question I have posed. Demographics, economics, educational opportunities, culture and gender roles all play a part.

    I was encouraged from a very early age to pursue scientific knowledge. At the same time, my father had hoped I would take up the practice of law or medicine. Instead, I studied engineering during my first incarnation as a college student. I did not finish but dropped out because I was sure Armageddon was right around the corner. That was back in 1977. Twenty years passed before I returned to college and by then I knew I wanted to embrace my first academic love, mathematics.

    I remember one of the post-docs I met during my second tour of academia who was black and held a PhD in mathematics. He talked about a gathering of all the holders of a doctorate in mathematics who were black in the United States that he attended. When I joked about how easily “all one hundred” must have fit in the auditorium, he smiled and said, “Actually, there were two hundred of us there, but you’ve made your point.” We laughed and then sadly shook our heads. That experience said everything about how far we still have to go.


  • Quendi

    I think one thing that could really help is for math and science teachers to arrange for women and people of color in their fields to address their classes. All the teacher would have to do is tell the class that on such-and-such a day, Dr. So-and-so will talk to the class about career opportunities in a certain field. Only the speaker’s last name should be mentioned and the ethnicity should not be referenced. On the scheduled day, the guest speaker will wait until the class has assembled before being introduced and then the fun can begin with a short presentation and/or demonstration to be followed by a question-and-answer session. Students will then have visible and tangible proof that regardless of sex or ethnicity, talented people can have a career based on math and science. I would hope something like this will act as a powerful stimulus for some of our young people.


Share this