WASHINGTON—Although women and minorities still make up only a small percentage of scientists in most fields, their presence is being felt within the governing body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

This fall, for the first time in AAAS’s history, all four candidates for the two vacancies on the board of directors are women and/or minorities. And the next AAAS president is University of Chicago physicist Walter Massey, who is black.

AAAS officials downplay the significance of the composition of this year’s slate of board candidates. They note, however, that each year nominating groups are urged to consider qualified women, minorities or persons with disabilities for all offices.

The race for president-elect pits Richard Atkinson, chancellor of the University of California at San Diego, against Herman Feshback, MIT institute professor of physics. Atkinson has argued for a Cabinetlevel slot for the presidential science adviser and a more...

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