BLACKS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: PAST AND PRESENT
It is a truism to say that today's world is dominated by science and technology. Business and industry, marketing and sales, medicine, communications, education, leisure—almost every aspect of our culture is influenced by the work of contemporary scientists and engineers.
As important as this direct influence is, many people may overlook the fact that educational background and work experience in these professions also serve as springboards for prestigious positions in management, whether in business, government, industry, or educational institutions. Careers in science and engineering, therefore, assume a role of major importance for members of minority groups who aspire to such positions. This paper will examine the access of blacks to careers in science and engineering, by focusing on their access to the requisite professional preparation.
In 1960, less than 1% of all engineers, about 2% of all chemists, and less than 1% of all other scientists in the United States were blacks (1). In absolute numbers, they totaled fewer than 5,000 persons. By 1974, although the absolute numbers had increased to 12,000 black scientists and engineers, this still constituted le
The reason for the inaccessibility of black role models in the fields of science and engineering is not the lack of such models, but the racism that has consistently refused to acknowledge their achievements. Latimer, seldom given credit for the telephone patent drawings he made for Alexander Graham Bell; William A. What accounts for this In the 19th century, science and technology were fields in which the "self-made man", the entrepreneur, the ambitious and enthusiastic amateur, had a good chance of succeeding, but that is no longer the case. Such advancement is an opportunity many blacks would welcome, of course. , stolen), and freedman's inventions were often not accepted, or were greeted with hostility if patented. Just after the Civil War, more than 80 of blacks in the United States were illiterate, and by 1910 about 30 had still never been to school (5). Molecular Biology Minority Affairs Committeeogy http:www. In between are the world-renowned agricultural scientist, George Washington Carver; Charles Drew, blood plasma researcher, who set up the first blood bank; synthetic chemist Percy Julian, whose drug developments help treat glaucoma and arthritis; Granville T. One subcommittee of the Minorities in Engineering program was specifically concerned with pre-engineering (that is, at the high school level) motivation and guidance (9). Slowly this is being remedied; one sure sign of progress was the first book-length treatment of a black by a professional historian of science (7).