The Supreme Court's narrow ruling on the University of Michigan's admissions policy signaled a fragile affirmative action victory, and Shirley Malcom wasted no time stating her position on its relationship to her own career. "Being black and female got me in the room," says Malcom, seated in the sunny and spacious lounge of the American Association for the Advancement of Science office suite she considers her inner sanctum. "But that is of less importance than what I do in the room."

She entered "the room" as an AAAS resident assistant in the mid-1970s. Today, Malcom is arguably the nation's most prominent advocate for the empowerment of the general public through science and technology education. An AAAS directorate head, she is charged with developing and driving fifty educational and human resources programs. She parlays an annual budget of $1.5 million (US) from AAAS into $7 million for programs such as Science...

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