Thursday, June 13, 2013

ADVANCE Journal Club: Developing Graduate Students of Color for the Professoriate in STEM

As I have posted about before - I am involved in the UC Davis ADVANCE project funded by NSF.  From the project website:
UC Davis ADVANCE is a newly funded Institutional Transformation grant that began in September of 2012. Our program is supported by the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE Program which aims to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. 
My role in this project is as a member (and now Co-Chair) of one of the "Policies and Practices Review Initiative" Committee.  As part of my work on this committee I am trying to read various papers on related topics.  And I figured I would simultaneously post about these papers as much as I can because it would be great to get a broader discussion going on these topics.

So today I am reading the following:CSHE - Developing Graduate Students of Color for the Professoriate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) which I was pointed to in our Committee meeting yesterday.  It is quite interesting.  It is by Anne MacLachlan from the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley.

The abstract:
This paper presents part of the results of a completed study entitled A Longitudinal Study of Minority Ph.D.s from 1980-1990: Progress and Outcomes in Science and Engineering at the University of California during Graduate School and Professional Life. It focuses particularly on the graduate school experience and degree of preparation for the professoriate of African American doctoral students in the sciences and engineering, and presents the results of a survey of 33 African American STEM Ph.D.s from the University of California earned between 1980-1990. Relationships with thesis advisors and principal investigators are evaluated by the study participants in fifteen specific areas from highly-ranked intellectual development to low-ranked training in grant writing. Deficits in training and socialization are discussed along with the tension between being both an African American and a graduate student. Career choices and outcomes are presented. These findings, in conjunction with current analyses of graduate education in STEM, suggest ways in which graduate training for all could be improved.

Lots of interesting information in there.  Perhaps most important for my current goals is what she describes at the end in terms of a Proposed Development Program.  She starts this section by commenting on the general situation in terms of training scientists in the US today.  She then identifies what she refers to a "discontinuities" in federal and local policy which can hinder "developing faculty of color."  These include "compartmentalized, externally mandated sets of programs" and the "nature of Ph.D. training".  Of the 33 Ph.D.s surveyed in the study, nearly all of them recommended diversity training for faculty.  They also recommend better laying out of expectations and requirements for students and more involvement of current faculty in recruiting.  They also made many recommendations for improving the life of current students of color.

Anyway - a lot of this material and the concepts involved are bit new to me so I am still digesting the article.  But I thought I would share it with others in the hope that this will help catalyze more open discussion of issues involved women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

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