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DNA Cell Biol. 2012 Aug;31(8):1365-71. doi: 10.1089/dna.2012.1756. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Limitations on diversity in basic science departments.

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Department of Dental Biochemistry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


It has been over 30 years since the beginning of efforts to improve diversity in academia. We can identify four major stages: (1) early and continuing efforts to diversify the pipeline by increasing numbers of women and minorities getting advanced degrees, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); (2) requiring academic institutions to develop their own "affirmative action plans" for hiring and promotion; (3) introducing mentoring programs and coping strategies to help women and minorities deal with faculty practices from an earlier era; (4) asking academic institutions to rethink their practices and policies with an eye toward enabling more faculty diversity, a process known as institutional transformation. The thesis of this article is that research-intensive basic science departments of highly ranked U.S. medical schools are stuck at stage 3, resulting in a less diverse tenured and tenure-track faculty than seen in well-funded science departments of major universities. A review of Web-based records of research-intensive departments in universities with both medical school and nonmedical school departments indicates that the proportion of women and Black faculty in science departments of medical schools is lower than the proportion in similarly research-intensive university science departments. Expectations for faculty productivity in research-intensive medical school departments versus university-based departments may lead to these differences in faculty diversity.

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