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This is the second in a series of special reports on the status of underrepresented groups in science and engineering.  Eleanor Babco, Executive Director of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology and Co-Pi to the MGE grant wrote this piece.  In the near future, a paper on the status of women will be posted also.  Please make a point to visit this site periodically.

Persons of Hispanic origin are a heterogeneous population with different cultural backgrounds and educational and labor force characteristics. They are also the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and are projected to comprise 25% of the U.S. population by the middle of the 21st Century. But, Hispanic Americans lag behind non-Hispanic Americans at all levels of educational achievement and employment participation. And unless the college-going rate of Hispanics in the 18-24 year old age group increases, the educational gap between Hispanic Americans and non-Hispanic Americans will continue to widen. 

Since 1970, while Hispanic Americans have made strides in educational attainment, they still have substantial distance to travel before they reach parity with white non-Hispanics in terms of opportunities for preparation of science and engineering careers or for employment and advancement in those careers. This report will trace the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans thus far and provide data to show that progress has been limited with much work remaining before they become full participants in the American science and engineering enterprise.


Hispanic American, Latino, and Hispano, all act as identifiers for people who trace their ancestry to countries in the western hemisphere where the Spanish language is spoken, and for those persons who currently make up the United Statesí fastest growing population category. A highly diverse group, numbering 31.4 million or 11.5 percent of the U.S. population in July 1999, Hispanics comprise several subgroups, with roots in various countries of Central America, including Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Panama, as well as countries in South America. 

Although Hispanic-origin groups are bound and unified by a shared language, each subgroupís cultures and traditions, while overlapping may occur, are varied and divergent. Primarily Caucasian and Black, Hispanics can be of any race, tending to traditionally identify and align themselves with their group of geographic origin, rather than by race. It is this diverse composition of histories and cultural characteristics that make this group particularly hard for statisticians, policymakers, and others to amalgamate into a tidy population segment. To a certain extent, "Hispanic" is a term of policy convenience. To understand the Hispanic-origin groups as a whole, and their participation and subsequent impact on the science and engineering (S&E) enterprise, it is necessary to acknowledge each group's unique origin and demographic issues. But, this is difficult since very few data sets disaggregate the Hispanic data. For those few that do (the U.S. Census Bureau and the doctroral awards from the National Science Foundation), those data are reported for the various subgroups within the Hispanic population.

  • The largest subgroup of Hispanic Americans are Mexican in origin, making up in 1997 over 63% of this population segment (see Figure 1) and numbering approximately 18.8 million. Most reside in the Southwestern states of Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Although often thought of as immigrants, many of these individuals are not immigrants, nor the descendants of immigrants, but were already living on land that had been part of northern Mexico until the end of the Mexican War in 1848, when large southwestern sectors were ceded to the United States. Mexicans that continued living in these territories were eventually granted U.S. citizenship. 
  • Puerto Ricans are the second largest subgroup of Hispanic Americans, representing 10.6% of all Hispanic Americans. The island of Puerto Rico became a U.S. possession in 1898 after four centuries of being a Spanish colony. Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917, and, Puerto Rico became a commonwealth in 1952. In 1997, about 3.2 million Puerto Ricans lived in the United States, either in Puerto Rico or in the Northeastern states, with large numbers living in New York and New Jersey. 
  • Cuban Americans number about 1.3 million, constituting the third largest Hispanic American group at 4.2%. The Cuban American community has concentrated itself in Florida, especially in the Miami area. Many Cuban Americans can trace their arrival in the United States to the political upheaval following the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the ascendancy to power of Fidel Castro. These Cuban immigrants, mostly well-educated, were members of the middle and upper middle classes, and had acquired some functional knowledge of English. Later immigrants from Cuba were not so well-prepared educationally, and thus have not prospered as well either economically or politically. 
  • Since the 1970s, several civil wars, along with economic turmoil in Latin American countries have brought substantial numbers of immigrants seeking economic betterment and safe harbor from political persecution to the United States. This includes 800,000 Nicaraguans who fled a civil war in their native land, in addition to an influx of Dominicans looking to find jobs and avoid political unrest. Many such immigrants settled in cities and states with major metropolitan centers such as Washington, DC, New York City, and Los Angeles, California.
During the decade of the 1980s, the Hispanic population grew over seven times as fast as the rest of the American population. As a result, in a single decade, Hispanics increased their proportion of the U.S. population from 6.4% to 9%. This tremendous growth was the result of primarily two factors: (1) a higher birth rate than the rest of the population and (2) substantial immigration from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. This growth rate is expected to continue so that by 2050, Hispanic Americans are projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to comprise 97 million persons, making this segment of the population the nationís largest minority group (Table 1).

School-Age Population

In 1995, Hispanic Americans comprised 13% of the school-age population 5-24 years of age. However, that proportion is projected to reach nearly 30%, up 222% by the middle of the 21st century. The number of white non-Hispanics age 5-24 is projected to decline 6.6% so that by 2050, their proportion of the school-age population 5-24 will drop to 44.4% from nearly 68% in 1995 (Table 2). The traditional pool from which our scientists and engineers have been drawn will change dramatically. The number of non-Hispanic whites in the traditional school age group is declining, while the number of Hispanics is growing rapidly. Are we as a nation prepared to encourage these students, as well as other under-participating groups, to pursue science-based careers?

Median Age

The Hispanic population is "younger" than the non-Hispanic white population. Data from the Census Bureau show that 30.3% of Hispanics were less than 15 years old, compared with 21.3% of non-Hispanic whites in 1997. Conversely, about twice as many non-Hispanic whites were 55 years old and over, compared with Hispanics (21.3% and 10.6% respectively). The median age of the Hispanic population in 1999 based on estimates from the Census Bureau was 26.9 Ė about 11 years less than that of non-Hispanic whites (Table 3). Since the greatest number of childbearing years tend to be in the twenties, it is clear why the U.S. Hispanic population continues to increase faster than other population groups. 


Despite significant progress, the educational attainment of Hispanic Americans is well below that of the rest of the population. One of the most notable improvements in educational attainment has been the drop in the proportion of Hispanics with very little formal education. The proportion of Hispanics age 25 and over with less than a 5th grade education dropped from 12.3% in 1990 to 9.3% in 1998. Despite this progress, the proportion of Hispanics in 1998 with less than a 5th grade education is six times larger than that of all whites (1.5%). 

While the proportion of Hispanics 25 years and over with at least a high school diploma reached 55.4% in 1998, collectively this group still have a long way to go before they approach the proportion achieved by all whites Ė 83.6%, (Table 4). Of the individual Hispanic subgroups, Cuban Americans were more likely to have finished at least four years of high school in 1998 (67.8%), followed by Puerto Ricans (63.8%) and Mexican Americans (48.3%).


Since 1973, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been measuring the proficiency of 9-, 13- and 17-year old students in mathematics and science, among other subjects. Competence in both mathematics and science is an important goal of education in an increasingly technological world. Knowledge of mathematics and the ability to apply scientific information is critical for success in scientific and engineering occupations and increasingly for other fields as well. Between 1973 and 1996, mathematics proficiency scores improved 6.4% for Hispanic 9-year olds, compared to a 5.3% improvement for white 9-year-olds. For 13-year-old Hispanic youth, mathematics proficiency rose 7.1% compared to only a 2.6% increase for white 13-year olds. And among Hispanic 17-year olds, scores increased 5.4% compared to less than a 1% rise for white young people (Figure 2). Nonetheless, Hispanic students regularly scored lower than their white counterparts during the past two decades on the mathematics achievement tests. 

In science, regardless of age group, Hispanic students score lower than do white students, but there has been some improvement. Hispanic 9-year-olds showed twice as much improvement in science achievement between 1977 and 1996 as did white students (7.8% vs. 3.9% respectively). An even greater improvement was achieved by 13-year old Hispanics who raised their science proficiency 8.9%, compared to an increase of 3.8% for white students. However, 17-year-old Hispanic students fell further behind in the 1973 to 1996 period (Figure 3). Average science proficiency scores rose only 2.6% for Hispanics, compared to 3.0% for whites. So, an ethnicity gap in math and science scores remains.

While the SAT verbal scores for all racial/ethnic groups posted one-year increases from 1998 to 1999, the math average score for the 1.2 million graduates in the Class of í99 fell one point overall from 1998 to 1999, with all racial/ethnic groups dropping, except for whites, whose scores held steady. Over the 1989-1999 decade, average verbal and math scores rose for all but two racial/ethnic groups Ė Mexican Americans and Hispanic/Latinos. This is not an encouraging situation as we enter the 21st century, with Mexican Americans and other Latinos already 74 and 64 points respectively below the average verbal score for whites and 72 and 64 points respectively below the average math score for whites.


The number of Hispanics enrolled as undergraduates increased nearly 160%, growing from 433,100 in 1980 to 1,125,900 in 1996. This compares with a rate of growth of only 3.6% for whites (from 8,480,780 to 8,783,900). However, by 1997, Hispanics still represented only 9.0% of total undergraduate enrollment, compared to nearly 71% for whites (Table 5). Hispanic women continued to enroll in greater numbers in undergraduate programs than did Hispanic men, outnumbering them 639,300 to 486,700. As a result, Hispanic women increased their proportional advantage over Hispanic men in their pursuit of higher education.

In 1996, Hispanics earned only 6.2% or 71,015 out of a total of 1,142,028 baccalaureates awarded that year to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, that was an increase of nearly 72% from the 41,361 they earned only seven years earlier in 1989. During that 7-year period, the number of degrees earned by white-non-Hispanics rose by only 5.2% -- from 840,326 to 884,128 (Table 6)

And there is reason for optimism for the participation of Hispanics in science and engineering. While their representation among the science and engineering baccalaureate population was about the same as among all baccalaureates in 1996 Ė earning 6.1% of the baccalaureates in science and engineering, they made significant progress over the 1989-1996 period. They increased their production of baccalaureates in science and engineering by 78.5% compared to only a 10.6% growth rate for white-non-Hispanics. 

By specific discipline, Hispanics again outpaced whites. In the natural sciences, Hispanics increased the number of degrees earned at a rate more than three times as fast as did whites Ė 53% compared to only about a 17% gain for whites. In engineering, the total number of bachelorís degrees dropped 5.8% between 1989 and 1996, with whites experiencing a decline of nearly 14%, compared to a growth of 46% for Hispanics. But Hispanics still only earned 3,731 (6.4%) bachelorís degrees in engineering in 1996 out of a total pool of 58,304 (Table 6). 

By individual science and engineering field in 1996, the proportion of baccalaureates earned by Hispanics ranged from a high of 6.9% in psychology to a low of 3.1% in the agricultural sciences, with most of their share by discipline ranging around 5.7% to 6.5%, with the exception of mathematics and physical science which was 4.6% respectively (Figure 4).

Hispanic women earned a higher proportion of bachelorís degrees in comparison to their male counterparts Ė earning nearly three out of every five baccalaureates awarded in all fields in 1996. In science and engineering, while Hispanic women earned over half (51.3%) of all bachelorís degrees granted to Hispanics in 1996, they were more heavily concentrated in the social sciences Ė earning 61% of the bachelorís degrees awarded. In engineering, they earned only 22.4% (834) of the 3,731 baccalaureates granted to Hispanics. But they are approaching parity in the natural sciences, earning 48% of the 5,764 bachelorís degrees awarded to Hispanics in 1996.

Hispanics tend to go to institutions in regions of the country where they are most concentrated, including California, Texas and Puerto Rico. This is shown by the top institutions conferring bachelorís degrees to Hispanic Americans in selected fields of science and engineering (Table 7)

The role that institutions in Puerto Rico play in providing higher education to Hispanics appears is lessening not because fewer Hispanics are earning degrees from education institutions in Puerto Rico, but because more Hispanics are earning degrees from mainland U.S. institutions. In 1996, 15.2% of Hispanics earned their science and engineering baccalaureates from institutions in Puerto Rico, compared to 1989, when 22.9% of Hispanics earned their science and engineering baccalaureates from Puerto Rican institutions. However, during that period, the number of S&E degrees awarded to Hispanics increased from 13,327 to 23,791. Institutions in Puerto Rico still play a major part in awarding bachelor's degrees in some fields, particularly engineering. In 1996, nearly one-quarter (24.5%) of all engineering degrees earned by Hispanics were conferred by institutions in Puerto Rico. It is important to point out that higher education institutions in Puerto Rico were the top baccalaureate origin institutions of 1991-95 S&E doctorate recipients who were Puerto Rican.

The Graduate Years

Graduate enrollment continued on an upward pace from 1982 through 1993, then declined 3.7% from 1994 through 1998 for all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Hispanics went against the overall trend and increased their numbers in graduate school just as they had at the undergraduate level, but at a much slower pace. In 1993, Hispanics were 4% of the graduate school population in science and engineering and increased their proportion by another percentage point in the ensuing five years reaching 5.0% by 1998, although their numbers in graduate education in science and engineering grew by 18.2% (from 15,967 to 18,879 Ė Table 8). However, they made more progress in some fields than others.

In the physical sciences, total enrollment of U.S. citizens and permanent residents declined by about 13%, but enrollment of Hispanics in graduate programs in the physical sciences increased by 23% (from 675 to 831). Despite this gain, Hispanics still are only 4.2% of total graduate enrollments in the physical sciences.

In the life sciences, the enrollment of Hispanics increased at a rate over four times as fast as the overall growth. Total graduate enrollment in the life sciences increased 5.7%, compared to an increase of 24.4% for Hispanics. However, Hispanics are still only 4.4% of total enrollment in the life sciences at the graduate level.

In computer sciences, while graduate enrollment for all U.S. citizens and permanent residents rose about 2.7%, enrollment of Hispanics increased over 19% (from 633 to 754). Hispanics still remain a small fraction of the graduate school enrollment in computer science Ė 3.2%.

In engineering, while there was a decline in overall graduate enrollment of 18% (from 76,039 to 62,242), the enrollment of Hispanics in engineering at the graduate level increased 1.8% (from 2,861 to 2,912 - Table 8)

Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are always changing since they must fulfill eight stipulations of the Higher Education Act, Title III, Section 316, including being a public or other nonprofit institution that has at least 25% Hispanic undergraduate full-time equivalent student enrollment. Additionally, they must provide at least a two-year program acceptable towards a degree and provide assurances that not less than 50% of its Hispanic students are low-income individuals and first generation college students, among other rules. Therefore, because of these definitions, the institutions designated as HSIs change from year to year. Among the top 50 institutions enrolling Hispanic graduate students in science and engineering in 1997, 11 were designated as HSIs in 1996. Most of the top 50 schools are in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California. Puerto Rican institutions enroll 12% of all Hispanic graduate science and engineering students. 

Graduate Degrees

Hispanics are earning more masterís degrees in all fields. During the 1989-96 period, they nearly doubled their output of masterís degrees from 8,133 to 15,394 (or 4.3% of all master's degrees awarded in 1996). And while the gain in science and engineering was not as high, it was still substantial Ė 72% - from 1,585 to 1,730. In comparison, white students recorded a 17.9% gain in S&E masterís degrees, and an overall increase of 23.5%. By specific discipline, in engineering, the increase in the number of masterís degrees earned by Hispanics was nearly 60%, compared to about a 6% gain for white students. Despite this growth, Hispanics still only earned 748 masterís degrees in engineering, compared to 13,573 for whites. In the natural sciences, although Hispanics increased the number of masterís degrees by 52.5% over the seven-year period 1989-96, they still only earned 3.1% of all masterís degrees conferred in the natural sciences in 1996 to U.S. citizens and permanent residents (Table 9).

While Hispanic women hold an edge over Hispanic men in total masterís degrees earned (61% vs. 39%), in all science and engineering fields combined, Hispanic men hold an edge (54% for men vs. 46% for women) as shown in Figure 5. There are some notable exceptions to this. Hispanic women dominate in psychology, earning three out of every four masterís degrees conferred and also earn 55% of all masterís degrees conferred in the biological sciences. 

It is important to point out that despite the gains made by Hispanics in earning masterís degrees in all fields, but particularly in science and engineering, they still have much distance to travel before approaching any kind of parity.

The number of doctoral degrees in science and engineering awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents dropped for the second consecutive year in 1998 to 18,125, although it had been increased 28% (from 14,592 to 18,628) in the eight-year period 1989 to 1996. The biggest reason for this drop in total doctorates in science and engineering awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents is the dramatic decline in the number of PhDs earned by Asian Americans, which has plummeted 40% from 1996 (from 3,091 to 2,140). In contrast, during the 1989-98 period, the number of Hispanics earning doctorates in science and engineering nearly doubled from 382 to 752. It appears that the progress that was made at the undergraduate level is finally showing up at the graduate level. Despite the higher growth rate, Hispanics still only earned 3.3% of the doctorates awarded in science and engineering in 1996. 

This growth was evident in most fields. In 1998, Hispanic Americans earned 110 doctorates in engineering, 134% more than the 47 they earned in 1989. In mathematics, they earned 27 PhDs, 145% more than the 11 they earned ten years earlier. A similar situation occurred in computer science where they increased their numbers from 4 to 14. In the biosciences, the number of PhDs earned grew by 138%, from 71 to 169 and in psychology, Hispanics more than doubled their number, reaching 207 in 1998. Only in the physical sciences was there an actual drop from 59 to 54. But again, despite this progress, Hispanic Americans represent only a small fraction of total doctorates earned in these fields.

At the doctorate level, Hispanic men have a numerical advantage over Hispanic women. In 1998, men earned 57% of all doctorates awarded in science and engineering. Hispanic men maintain this advantage over their female counterparts in every field in science and engineering except psychology (where women hold a big advantage) and social sciences.

Doctorates are the only level in which the Hispanic population can be broken out. As shown in Table 10, of the 752 PhDs awarded to Hispanics in science and engineering in 1998, Puerto Ricans earned 22.7% (171), Mexican Americans 29.7% (223) and the remaining 47.6% (358) were earned by "Other Hispanics". A similar breakout occurs regardless of individual field examined.

The baccalaureate origin institutions of Hispanics somewhat reflects their geographic concentration. Twenty-six of the top 50 baccalaureate-origin institutions of Hispanic doctorate recipients are in Puerto Rico, California, Florida and Texas. Table 11 shows the top three institutions conferring graduate degrees to Hispanic Americans in selected science and engineering fields for 1996.

Financial Support in Graduate School. 

Support for doctorate recipients in the sciences and engineering usually takes the form of fellowships and assistantships, primarily from federal sources, augmented at times by student loans or personal funds. In 1997, more than half Ė 54% received the majority of their support from fellowships or teaching and research assistantships, while about a third (35%) reported that their personal or family resources were the primary sources used to finance their doctoral studies. However, this varied by field as well as by sex and racial/ethnic category. For example, among all science and engineering PhD recipients in 1997, there was little difference in support for Hispanics and whites, with 51% of Hispanics and 52% of whites receiving support in the form of fellowships or assistantships. However, in the physical sciences, there were substantial differences, with 65% of Hispanics receiving fellowships or assistantships compared to 80% of whites (Table 12)

Years to Doctoral Degree

Hispanics tend to be older than white doctorates at the time of the receipt of their degree. For example, 58% of whites at the time of their doctorate were between the ages of 26 and 35, compared to 51% of Hispanics. 

Overall, between 6-10 years is both the median and average number of years for all graduate students to complete their education between receipt of the bachelorís and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. However, it takes some groups longer than others to obtain the PhD. There was little difference in median time lapse from receipt of the baccalaureate to receipt of the PhD by race/ethnicity. For non-Hispanic whites who were U.S. citizens, the median registered time lapse was 7.4, while for Hispanics, it was 7.5.

Hispanics in the Labor Force

Despite the improving numbers in preparing for careers in science and engineering, it is slow moving for Hispanics to make some penetration into the U.S. S&E workforce. In 1997, of the 12,530,700 persons in the science and engineering workforce, nearly 85% (10,585,600) were actually employed in science and engineering. And, of those employed in S&E, only 3.5% or 371,500 were Hispanics, while 83.9% were whites. This proportion is up slightly from the 3.1% of the total employed science and engineering workforce who were Hispanics in 1993, according to data obtained from the National Science Foundation SESTAT Database. Not surprisingly, the proportion of Hispanics decreased as the degree level increased. The proportion of Hispanics employed in science and engineering was 3.8% at the baccalaureate level, 3.1% at the masterís, but only 2.7% at the doctorate level.

The proportion of Hispanics employed in science and engineering varied somewhat by field of degree. Hispanics were more likely to be social and behavioral scientists and less like to be computer/math scientists, life scientists and physical scientists. Overall, only 2.5% of the physical, life, computer or mathematical scientists were Hispanics, compared to 4.1% of the social scientists. However, 3.5% of the 1.9 million engineers were Hispanics (Table 13).

In 1997, of the 580,300 employed doctoral scientists and engineers who had received their doctorate in science or engineering, only 15,000 (or 2.6%) were Hispanics. And, this proportion varies by field of degree, ranging from a low of 2.0% of the physical scientists to a high of 3.3% for life scientists. Hispanics were 2.2% of the 98,200 PhD engineers. 

Only about half of all Hispanic women participate in the labor force, compared with nearly 80 percent of Hispanic men and 57 percent of all women. Overall in 1992, 66.6 percent of Hispanics age 16 and over, and 66.3 percent of non-Hispanics, were in the labor force. However, the apparent parity masks substantial difference by sex, ethnicity, age, and education. 

Very few scientists and engineers, regardless of field were unemployed in 1997. Overall, the unemployment rate for scientists and engineers was 1.9%. This compares with a rate of 2.7% for Hispanics and 1.7% for whites. Nearly nine out of every ten employed Hispanic scientists and engineers who were working were employed full-time, about the same percentage as white non-Hispanics. The remainder of the employment pool was either retired or voluntarily out of the labor force.

Business/industry is the principal employment sector for scientists and engineers. However, there is some variation among the racial/ethnic groups. Overall, 70% of all scientists and engineers are employed in business and industry, compared to 63% of the Hispanics and 78% of the whites. Hispanics are employed in higher proportions than are white non-Hispanics in academe and government Ė 21% of Hispanics compared to 17% of white non-Hispanics are employed in academic institutions while 16% of Hispanics and 13% of white non-Hispanics are employed in government. These percentages varied somewhat by degree level (Figure 6), as well as field, with engineers and computer scientists more likely to work in industry. 

Hispanic scientists and engineers are very similar to white non-Hispanicscientists and engineers in their work activities. Both are more likely to be working in research and development (53% and 55% respectively) and management and sales (43% and 44% respectively), and less likely to be teaching (12% each). 

Hispanic scientists and engineers are generally younger than their white colleagues. Nearly a third of all Hispanic scientists and engineers are in the 30-39 age range, compared with 24% of white non-Hispanics. On the other hand, nearly a third of white non-Hispanic scientists and engineers are over the age of 50 compared to slightly more than 18% of Hispanic scientists and engineers.

Hispanic scientists and engineers earned the most working in the business/industry sector regardless of degree level, although the differential was most pronounced at the doctorate level. For example, Hispanic scientists and engineers with a PhD reported a median annual salary of $70,000 working in business and industry Ė 34% more than the $50,000 median salary for Hispanic S&Es working in four-year colleges/universities but only 3% more than the $65,000 they earned working in the federal government. By specific occupation, Hispanic scientists and engineers reported the highest salaries working as managers/administrators (as did whites - $55,000 and $64,000 respectively). Hispanic scientists and engineers working as computer/math scientists approached the nearest salary parity with whites Ė earning 93.3% of what whites did (Table 14). While whites working in science and engineering occupations report higher salaries regardless of occupation, part of the disparity could be attributed to field concentrations and level of degree.


Despite education and employment gains, faculty at American colleges and universities remain predominantly white, with little change in faculty diversity occurring over the past decade, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA. In 1998-99, 91.7% of the total 440,850 faculty were white, compared with 90.4% of faculty in 1989. It is not possible to make comparisons in the 1989-1998 decade for Hispanic faculty since data were not collected for "other Latino" in the 1989-90 faculty survey conducted by HERI. However, in 1998-99, Hispanic faculty comprised 2.7% of total faculty (Table 15). In addition, the low percentage of minority faculty among recent faculty hires suggests that higher education is not making much headway in diversifying their faculty (Table 15)

The findings of the Higher Education Research Institute reinforced data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics for fall 1995. Of the 550,822 full-time instructional faculty in institutions of higher education, 12,942 or 2.4% were Hispanics, little different from 1993, when 2.3% of the total full-time instructional faculty was Hispanic. Hispanic men made very little progress. In 1995, they represented 2.2% of all male full-time faculty, nearly the same as in 1993 when 2.1% of all male full-time faculty were Hispanic. Hispanic women more than doubled their proportion to 2.7% in 1995 from 1.3% in 1993. 

While Hispanics achieved a 70% gain (from 1,455 to 2,470) in the number of full professorships held from 1985 to 1995, they still only accounted for 2,470 or 1.6% of the 159,333 full professors in 1995. Hispanic women showed a 84% growth rate in the number of faculty holding the rank of full professor, but still only accounted for 558 (2%) of the 28,393 full female professors. Hispanic men increased the number of full professorships by 59% during the 1985-1995 decade, but still only accounted for 1.5% of all full male professors.

In 1995, of the total full instructional faculty, 28.9% were full professors, but only 19.1% of Hispanics held this rank, and while 12.1% of the total were instructors, a larger proportion 19.6% of Hispanics were at this level (Figure 7).

The numbers are about the same in the science and engineering workforce. In 1997, of the 143,200 ranked doctoral scientists and engineers who were employed full-time as faculty in four-year colleges and universities, 4,000 or 2.8% were Hispanics. And of the 65,100 faculty who had achieved full professorships, only 2.0% or 1,300 were Hispanics.

Among full-time ranked science and engineering faculty, 32.5% of Hispanics (1,300 out of 4,000) compared with 48% (57,200 out of 120,500) had achieved the rank of full professor. Some of these differences can be attributed to differences in age, with Hispanics scientists and engineers younger on average than white scientists and engineers. 

Hispanics also were less likely to be tenured than were whites (48% vs. 57%). However, a higher percentage of Hispanics than whites were in tenure-track positions (28% vs. 16%). Hispanic men were over four times as likely to be full professors as their female counterparts. Over 31% of Hispanic men who were full-time doctoral faculty were full professors, compared to only 7% of Hispanic women. Further, Hispanic faculty are often clustered in limited areas, such as Chicano studies, rather than being spread across an institution. 

Just as was true for African Americans, finding and retaining Hispanic faculty is and will continue to be a challenge since the gains in the number of Hispanic PhD graduates in science and engineering is too small to make much difference to the anticipated additions to the faculty pool in the coming years. Thus not much of a difference in the proportional make-up of S&E faculty will likely occur.

Summary and Conclusion

The rapid growth of the Hispanic population, and particularly that from Mexico and Central America has not yet been accompanied by a comparable increase in educational attainment, particularly at the higher education levels Ė progress has been limited. As younger students enter higher education, there will be few faces like theirs among the faculty. Hispanic influence is likely to profoundly change the predominantly English speaking culture of the United States. Spanish is already the second most widely spoken language in the United States, and Hispanic influences are increasingly noticeable. Therefore, it is imperative that these groups take their rightful place in an increasingly diverse U.S. population. If the United States is to continue its prosperity, it must utilize all of its talented citizenry.


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