News Highlights: Week of August 28

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago, by Jeremy Ashkenas, Haeyoun Park and Adam Pearce of The New York Times

Whether it’s in the Ivy League, top liberal arts schools, or public flagship schools, Blacks and Hispanics are still underrepresented in college enrollment, even after decades of Affirmative Action measures aimed to counteract some of the barriers such applicants face. A recent analysis finds the enrollment gap has actually widened since 35 years ago: Black students have seen minimal gains, Hispanic students have seen more notable gains but these haven’t kept pace with the growing applicant pool, and for both groups, the more selective the school, the lower the enrollment. Experts point out that Affirmative Action can help college-ready students but can’t bridge stubborn gaps from lower down in the pipeline– like those formed in under-resourced elementary and secondary schools.

FDA Puts New Restrictions on Hiring Foreign Scientists, by Erin Mershon of Scientific American

This week the Food and Drug Administration issued a new protocol; telling its hiring managers not to offer jobs to any individual who hasn’t lived in the U.S. for at least three of the last five years. Some FDA staff say the protocol will affect a large portion of the workforce, and that many key staff members wouldn’t be there if the protocol had been in place previously. Recent threats to international collaboration, like President Trump’s travel ban, prompted the scientific community to issue a statement that continues to be relevant: “To remain the world leader in advancing scientific knowledge and innovations, the U.S. science and technology enterprise must continue to capitalize on the international and multicultural environment within which it operates.”

Measuring Up, by Courtney Humphries of MIT Technology Review

Sometimes gender inequality is hard to demonstrate, and other times all you need is a tape measure. Nancy Hopkins is a pioneer on many fronts: she made the zebrafish an important species for research, made critical inroads in gene expression research, and championed research on cancer prevention rather than drug development. She also radically disrupted gender inequality at MIT. When she was denied an extra 200 square feet for her lab, she pulled out her tape measure and found she had less space than her male counterparts and even male junior professors. From then on, she would fight for gender equality in the sciences. She produced reports that upturned existing attitudes about women at MIT and beyond. Hopkins reflects, “They changed policies; they built day care on campus, which was unimaginable. Having children became normal.” She adds, “Putting women in the administration, realizing you really needed them to be in powerful positions, was critical.”

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