PITTSBURGH, MARCH 22, 2010 -- Significant numbers of today's women and underrepresented minority chemists and chemical engineers (40 percent) say they were discouraged from pursuing a STEM career (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) at some point in their lives, according to a new Bayer Corporation survey.
U.S. colleges are cited by them as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens (60 percent) and college professors as the individuals most likely responsible for the discouragement (44 percent).
The U.S. K-12 education system falls short, too. On average, the survey respondents give it a "D" for the job it does to encourage minorities to study STEM subjects and a "D+" for girls.
The Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey polled 1,226 female, African‑American, Hispanic and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers about their childhood, academic and workplace experiences that play a role in attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
"If we want to achieve true diversity in America's STEM workforce, we must first understand the root causes of underrepresentation and the ongoing challenges these groups face," said Greg Babe, President and CEO, Bayer Corporation. "We want to knock down barriers. If we can do that, we'll be able to develop the attitudes, behaviors, opportunities and resources that lead to success."
Other major findings include:
"This and previous Bayer Facts surveys confirm something I've long known – that interest in science is genderless and colorless," said Dr. Mae C. Jemison, astronaut, medical doctor, chemical engineer and Bayer's longtime Making Science Make Sense® spokesperson. "All children have an innate interest in science and the world around them. But for many children, that interest hits roadblocks along an academic system that is still not blind to gender or color.
"These roadblocks have nothing to do with intellect, innate ability or talent," said Dr. Jemison. "On the contrary, they are the kinds of larger, external socio-cultural and economic forces that students have no control over. As students, they cannot change the fact that they do not have access to quality science and math education in their schools. But adults can. And we must."
The survey, conducted by Pittsburgh-based research firm Campos Inc., polled a total of 1,226 Caucasian women, Asian women, African-American men, African-American women, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, American Indian men and American Indian women. For each group, a minimum number of interviews were established to determine any statistically significant differences among the groups. This was done to reveal commonalities and differences of experiences among the groups. Based on this sample size, the statistical reliability achieved is +/-3 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.
About Bayer Corporation
Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company's products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time Bayer creates value through innovation, growth and high earning power. The Corporation is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its role as a socially and ethically responsible corporate citizen. Economy, ecology and social responsibility are corporate policy objectives of equal rank. In North America, Bayer had 2009 net sales of approximately 7.7 billion euros (about $10.7 billion) and employed 16,300 at year end. For more information, go to www.bayerus.com.
Formalized in 1995, Making Science Make Sense is Bayer's national award-winning initiative to advance science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.
Note for Journalists: Visit the online press room http://bayerfactsofscience.online-pressroom.com/ for all of the Bayer Facts of Science Education survey materials. The site contains the survey's Executive Summary, related side bar stories, survey participant quote sheet, a link to past Bayer Facts surveys, images and broll footage.
Bryan Iams, phone: (412) 777-5200
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer's public reports which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.