The world of science has no shortage of formal programs aimed at assisting the career advancement of members of racial or ethnic minorities. But these programs alone--effective as some can be--are not enough to overcome the professional barriers that scientists in these chronically underrepresented groups often confront, according to minority researchers.
"Students have to understand that these minority programs generally only get them to first base," says Eloy Rodriguez, Cornell University's James Perkins Professor of Environmental Biology. Running the rest of the bases requires a combination of scientific talent, self-confidence, good mentors, and networking skills, according to Rodriguez and other minority scientists.
The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, professional societies, individual universities, and many other organizations have mounted efforts aimed at helping minority researchers (see story on page 1). But many minority scientists say it is a mistake to rely solely on these initiatives.