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September 18, 1998

Last week President Clinton called on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to develop recommendations for achieving greater diversity in the United States’ scientific and technical work force.  By 2010, approximately half of America's school-age population will be from minority groups. As stated by the White House, minority participation in science and engineering careers should keep pace with this growing diversity. Currently, only one-eighth of all high school graduates have the math and science preparation that would permit advanced study in a technical field; for under-represented minorities, that fraction is only half as much. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the demand for computer scientists, systems analysts and other information technology positions will double over the next 10 years, requiring 1.3 million new workers in this area alone. Expansion of the participation of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in these critical fields is crucial in meeting the growing demand for workers in technology fields.

The Administration is looking for ways that the federal government, working in partnership with the private sector and state governments, can promote fuller participation of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in scientific and technical careers. The NSTC is charged with producing recommendations in six months that detail ways for the federal government to bolster mentoring in science and technology fields and to work with the private sector and academia to strengthen mentoring in higher education. The White House’s statements were issued in conjunction with the announcement of the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The awards are implemented by NSTC’s Committee on Education and Training and the Committee on Fundamental Science’s   Subcommittee on Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education. The awards recognize outstanding mentoring efforts and programs that have enhanced the participation of minorities, women and people with disabilities.