South-Central Section - 47th Annual Meeting (4-5 April 2013)

Paper No. 16-2
Presentation Time: 1:55 PM


GARCIA, Sonia, College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University, 202 O&M Building, College Station, TX 77845,

The Geosciences continue to lag far behind other sciences in recruiting and retaining diverse populations. Thus our challenge is great in becoming more representative of science in general and the state of Texas in particular. In fact, the Geosciences are ranked lowest in diversity when compared with other disciplines in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Though African Americans comprise 12.4% of the United States population, and about 9% earned bachelor’s degrees in 2008, only 3% of those bachelors were awarded in geosciences. Hispanics comprised 15% of the United States population, yet in 2008 bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanics was approximately 8% and fewer than 5% were awarded in geosciences. Even more sobering statistics, from 2001 to 2006, 55 Hispanic men and 45 Hispanic women received Ph.D.s in the geosciences nationwide. On the whole, in the last 30 years a total of 249 Hispanic men and 104 Hispanic women received Geosciences Ph.D.s. In 2004, 2.8 per 1000 B.S. degrees in geosciences were awarded to African Americans (compared to 45.4/1000 in the biological sciences). From 1974 to 2004, 78 African American men and 23 African American women received Ph.D.s in the geosciences in the United States. Diversity is lowest in the Geosciences, where only 7% of graduating bachelor’s-level students were from one of these underrepresented groups (NSF, 2004). Increase participation of the next generation of geoscientist of underrepresented groups depends on innovative and effective recruitment and retention practices.

In the past three to four years, through elaborate inquiry-based pipeline pre-college programs such as (GeoX – Geosciences Exploration Summer Program, iGeo – Investigate Geosciences, and G-Camp for Freshmen) and targeted recruitment of high school students, we have seen the number of Hispanics and African Americans entering the undergraduate programs in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M, increased between 9% in 2008 to 28% in 2012. We nearly doubled the number and presence of underrepresented students at the College of Geosciences. Case in point, from 40 (8.1%) Hispanic students, we are up to 118 (40.4%) and from 3 (0.6%) African American students to 24 (4.3%).