Sunday, October 03, 2010

Good News and No News

This week the National Research Council released a huge review of America's doctoral programs. It looked at over 5,000 PhD programs at more than 210 universities across the nation. The study pulled from 2005-2006 data (it's last review was released in 1995, based on data collected from 1993), and looked at various trends in doctoral education, including diversity issues like minority representation among faculty and students.

Because of the PIA project's focus, I read this report and looked at two things in particular: 1.) what does this report say about underrepresented minorities, and 2.) specifically, what does it say about Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders?

Here are my answers:

1.) Based on its findings, the National Research Council found that for every academic field it reviewed, there has been an increase in the percentage of PhDs who are what it considers to be underrepresented minorities. To quote the study:

For all doctoral programs in fields covered by the study, there has been an increase in the percentage of PhDs from underrepresented minority groups (a growth of 2.3 percentage points to 9.6 percent in the agricultural sciences, 3.7 percentage points to 9.8 percent in biological sciences, 1.7 percentage points to 6.4 percent in the physical sciences, 5.2 percentage points to 10.1 percent in engineering, 5.0 percentage points to 14.4 percent in the social sciences and 3.5 percentage points to 10.9 percent in the humanities).

For the minorities included in the National Research Council's definition of underrepresented, that's good news.

2.) The answer to the second question ("What does it say about Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders?") is short: it doesn't talk about Pacific Islanders. Instead, the study defined "underrepresented minority" to include only African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indian and Alaska Natives. Pacific Islanders were not included, and no space in the free online copy of the report explained why. For Pacific Islander's, that's no news.

This leaves us with another instance where we know a little more about other underrepresented minorities, and see another example of how Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islander are left out of the discussion on how underrepresented minorities are doing and how they can do better.

The full report (which has a ton of great information in other areas) is available here: LINK

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