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Panel of Academics, Business Officials Makes Plans for Diversifying Science and Technology Workforce in United States
Responding to the nation's pressing need to increase the representation of women and minorities in the science and engineering workforce, AAAS's Shirley Malcom spoke at a forum held at the Washington Convention Center.
"We have to make clear what is at stake here," Malcom said. "As a nation, the United States is failing to produce the necessary base of scientists and engineers who are key to maintaining the country's leadership role and sustaining the wellbeing of our people."
Malcom joined seven other speakers from the academic and business communities on a panel entitled, "Talent Imperative: Diversifying America's Science and Engineering Workforce." Held as part of the Congressional Black Caucus's 33rd Annual Legislative Conference, the purpose of the event was to discuss how best to implement the recommendations of a report prepared by BEST, a public-private partnership whose acronym stands for Building Engineering and Science Talent. Malcom is co-chair of a BEST blue-ribbon panel that studied best practices in improving S&T education, from the pre-school level through the end of high school. BEST's three-year mission is to implement a plan to increase the participation of the "under-represented majority"women, minorities, and people with disabilities. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute and president-elect of AAAS is the chair of the panel that reviewed best practices in teaching science and engineering to graduates and undergraduates.
In announcing her sponsorship of today's "Talent Imperative" forum, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) noted that women, minorities, and people with disabilities hold only about 25 percent of all technical jobs, while they comprise 75 percent of the workforce.
"We have to enlarge the talent pool by starting early and developing the technical talent of under-represented groups in pre-K through 12, higher education, and the workplace," said Johnson, in a prepared statement.
Malcom and her fellow panel members pointed out that other nations have begun to attract the foreign scientists and engineers that have traditionally boosted the S&T workforce in this country. Other barriers have been put in place since the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 that make it harder for prospective immigrantseven well-educated onesto make a home in the United States.
25 September 2003