I joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1975 as a research assistant for a National Science Foundation-supported project designed to identify and analyze programs that had been successful in increasing the number of minorities in science, engineering, and biomedical careers. Although I had no special credentials for this work at the time, I was intensely curious about it, since during my undergraduate and graduate days I had been troubled by the fact that, as an African American woman, I had often been the only minority student in my science and mathematics classes.

The project unearthed a vast array of successful efforts throughout the United States to connect African American, Latino, and American Indian students with science and engineering. A subsequent project concentrated on successful efforts to do the same for girls and women. In general, my colleagues and I discovered, these efforts--or "interventions"--had been developed to...

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