Lost Talent

The Underparticipation of Women, Minorities, and Disabled Persons in Science

by Jeannie Oakes

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As the nation's economic base shifts increasingly toward technology, disparities in students' achievement and participation in science and mathematics are generating increasing concern. This concern is heightened by demographic projections which show that the traditional pool of scientific workers is shrinking. This report reviews current research on the relationship between educational practices and policies and the low rates of participation of women, minorities, and disabled persons in science-related careers. It presents an overview of the problem, including data on the current status and recent trends in the participation of these groups; describes the schooling process by which students become scientists and discusses race and gender differences in participation; describes the potential influences on the learning opportunities, achievement, and choices of women, minorities, and disabled persons; and outlines intervention strategies that have been designed to reverse underparticipation.

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