2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:55 PM

Increasing Diversity in the Future Geoscience Workforce

MARTINEZ, Cynthia and KEANE, Christopher, Geoscience Workforce, American Geological Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, cmm@agiweb.org

With respect to diversity, the geosciences have a “good news/bad news” situation. First, the good news: Females now make up 45 percent of the student population in the geosciences, second only to biology in female participation in the sciences. The bad news: the geosciences have less than 3 percent participation by ethnic minorities, the worst participation rates of all other sciences, engineering and math.

The American Geological Institute (AGI) is dedicated to increasing diversity in the geosciences. Through the Geoscience Workforce program, AGI has been the source of detailed demographic data for the geosciences in the U.S., tracking geoscience enrollments, gender and ethnic diversity, and other data since the 1950's.

To address the lack of ethnic diversity in the geosciences, AGI developed the Minority Participation Program (MPP) in 1971. The MPP is the longest-running diversity initiative in the geosciences, and has a goal of maintaining and increasing incrementally the number of students entering the geoscience pipeline and being retained through to graduation and careers. More than 950 minority students studying in fields of earth science have been awarded academic scholarships from the MPP and have been supported through mentoring programs. AGI's MPP program is funded by corporate associates and industry partners, and most recently saw funding doubled by the American Chemical Society's Petroleum Research Fund.

AGI recently completed a survey of past scholars. Forty-four percent of past AGI MPP scholars were Hispanic, 39 percent were African American, twelve percent were Native American and five percent were multi-ethnic or not specified. Fifty-six percent of the scholars were male. AGI MPP scholars have studied at colleges and universities in more than 42 states. Fifty-eight percent of scholars were undergraduate students while they were supported by the AGI MPP, with 22 percent seeking Masters Degrees and 13 percent PhDs.