American Indian Women in Science. Winona Littlebird University of Montana, Bridges to Baccalaureate. Abstract
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Winona Littlebird University of Montana, Bridges to Baccalaureate
My project involved comparing the percentage of female professors to female students at Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs). This would help support my hypothesis that women in science are underrepresented in TCU science faculties. When I collected the data I found that the proportion for female students is greater then the proportion of female faculty. Also this information is very crucial in creating future funding for American Indian Women in Science.
Recent studies show that women are unrepresented in the science and engineering fields which could harm our future in these fields (Nelson, 2002). We also believe that American Indian women in science are underrepresented. Attempts to attempts to increase these numbers have been made but the progress is quite slow. These attempts include increased funding for females who are studying science.
Many American Indians begin their post-secondary schooling at tribal colleges, which makes it very important for female science mentors to be there to encourage students to pursue their educational goals in science. It appears that there are almost no female science professors who teach at tribal colleges.
The main focus of this research is Native American Women in Science. This research project involves contacting all Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), in order to get a head count of all female science majors and female faculty to compare the proportion of women students to the proportion of women faculty. This data will be used to determine the exact percentage of American Indian females who teach at TCUs and compare with the percentage of female students. This data will also be used as a recruitment tool whereby American Indian women in science-related fields will be approached with the possibility of becoming future mentors or professors.
Materials and Methods
The Internet and telephone were the main sources for communicating with all TCUs. In addition, all TCUs were sent emails that explained the research project and solicited their help in gathering the necessary information. After sending the emails, telephone calls were made. Phone calls were made more then once, the least being one and the most being three to four.
Phone call discussions focused on a series of questions that pertained to the total number of students enrolled, total number of students in science related vocations, total number of female students in science, total number of faculty in science, total number of female faculty, and how many of these students and faculty are American Indian.
TSE- Total student enrollmentTF- Total Faculty
FSE- Female student enrollmentTFS- Total Science Faculty
ISC- Indian student countFSF- Female Science Faculty
TSM- Total science majorsNSF- Native Science Faculty
FSM- Female science majors
I collected the headcounts from the following TCUs, Bay Mills Community College, Haskell Indian Nations, Untied Tribes Technical College and Comanche Nation College.
Discussion and Conclusions
When beginning this research, I hypothesized that American Indian Women in Science were underrepresented. I thought that there was going to be no women professors at any of the TCUs.
However, after receiving the data from the TCUs, I saw that although there are not many female professors, there are some. Most TCUs have more female students in science than male students. So my hypothesis is correct and women are underrepresented in the science faculty, but there are more female science students than expected. To provide role models for women science students at TCU’S it is important to increase the proportion of women on TCU science faculties.
The insights provided by this data will be extremely helpful in the future by instigating the creation of additional funding for American IndianWomen in Science.
Nelson, Dr. D. J., & Rogers, D.C. (2002). A National Analysis of Diversity in Science and Engineering Faculties at Research Universities.
Research Mentor: Penny Kukuk
Funding: NIGMS - Bridges to the Baccalaureate
Other: I would like to thank Penny Kukuk
Kailey Shade and Iris Heavy Runner- Pretty Paint.