Some Real Action After Decades of Talk About Diversity

In 1989, the number of PhDs in science and engineering awarded to blacks in the United States was 222, just 1.8% of the total - and a drop from 288 in 1977. More recently the numbers are better. According to the National Science Foundation, 661 blacks received a PhD in science or engineering in 2003, 4.2% of the total.

But African-Americans represent over 12% of the general population, according to the 2000 census. While current statistics reflect some improvement, the factors people discussed in 1989 as barriers to African-Americans becoming scientists are those still cited today: poor high school preparation, too few role models and mentors. The problems of nearly 20 years ago remain the same, and the solutions don't appear to have changed much either.

However, people are finally talking about tackling these problems scientifically. In "A Scientific Approach...

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