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Parents of Under-Represented Students in Science, Engineering Speak Out on Issue in New National Survey (2/2)


PITTSBURGH, May 24 -- Despite the fact that women, African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans have long been under-represented in science and engineering (S&E) in the United States, a new survey shows parents of these students are overwhelmingly confident that their children -– both boys and girls -– have what it takes to succeed in these subjects in school and afterward in the workplace. (2 of 2):


But, Jemison says, more work needs to be done, particularly in the area of under-representation. For example, while two-thirds (66 percent) of parents polled report being aware of the under- representation of women, African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans in S&E fields, and more than half (56 percent) are concerned, only 15 percent are “very concerned” and a significant number of all parents -– except African-Americans -– are not concerned (44 percent parents overall; 63 percent Native Americans and 52 percent Hispanic Americans). A larger number of African-American parents (69 percent) are concerned.

Further, parents do not appear to share the concern outlined by the NSB and National Science Foundation in recent national reports. These reports warn that the U.S.’s global leadership position in science and technology could be threatened in the future if we don’t begin adding more women and minorities to the number of scientists and engineers we need to stay competitive. When asked whether this lack of participation threatens the U.S.’s ability to compete with other countries in S&E, parents were divided with roughly half saying “yes” (47 percent) and “no” (49 percent).

“The science and engineering communities not only need to do a better job communicating the myriad job opportunities to students, we need to work much harder at letting them -- and their parents -- know that we want and need them in these fields. One way is by actively supporting science education programs that strive to eliminate this inequity and achieve parity,” said Dr. Attila Molnar, Bayer Corporation president and CEO.

Closing the Gap

Parents agree. They believe the S&E communities (92 percent), together with parents themselves (98 percent) and others, share responsibility for ensuring women and minorities succeed in these fields. In addition, many agree (72 percent) the S&E communities should develop programs that attract, encourage and retain girls’ and minority students’ interest in science and math.

Parents also think education is key. One important way to eliminate this under-representation is for girls and minorities to receive a strong science and math education beginning in elementary school, say 95 percent of parents. Almost all parents (81 percent) believe science should be the fourth “R” in elementary school and given the same emphasis as reading, writing and math, although half (56 percent) believe science is/was given less emphasis during their children’s elementary school years.

Almost all parents across the board (87 percent) say that the most effective method for students to learn science is through hands-on, inquiry-based instruction where students conduct hands- on experiments, form opinions and discuss and defend their conclusions with others. Virtually none of the parents (three percent) selected traditional textbook-based, lecture-driven science education as the more effective method.

“The science and engineering pipeline doesn’t begin in college, nor does it begin in high school. It starts in elementary school at the earliest grades when all students are interested in science,” explained Sarah Toulouse, who oversees Bayer’s MSMS initiative. “Hands-on science, through the process of discovery, captures and sustains this interest, while building important science literacy skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork. We believe this is the way to create a healthy pipeline -– and not just of future scientists and engineers -- but of a citizenry that is scientifically literate.”

The Bayer Facts of Science Education survey series, part of an ongoing annual public opinion research project, is one component of Bayer’s company-wide Making Science Make Sense initiative that advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education. Currently, 11 Bayer sites around the country operate local MSMS programs, which together represent a national volunteer corps of more than 1,000 employees.

Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is part of the worldwide Bayer Group, an international health care, nutrition and innovative materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. In North America, as of April 2005, Bayer employed about 16,000 and had net sales of 8.3 billion euros. Bayer’s three operating companies -- Bayer HealthCare LLC, Bayer CropScience LP and Bayer MaterialScience LLC -- improve people’s lives through a broad range of essential products that help diagnose and treat diseases, protect crops and advance automobile safety and durability. The Bayer Group stock is a component of the DAX and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: BAY).

Results of The Bayer Facts of Science Education XI, conducted by Market Research Associates, are based on a telephone poll of a total of 1,500 American parents using random digit dialing. The confidence level achieved conducting the initial 1,000 telephone interviews is 95 percent with a Plus/Minus three percent margin of error. Each of the 250 completed telephone interviews among the three minority groups provides a confidence level of 95 percent with a Plus/Minus seven percent error factor.

For more information about the Bayer Facts XI survey in both English and Spanish, visit Bayer’s MSMS Web site at


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