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Chapter 16 STEM Blind Spots: Moving Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales

Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans' Paths to STEM Fields

ISBN: 978-1-78052-168-8, eISBN: 978-1-78052-183-1

Publication date: 23 September 2011


In 2009, Blacks earned about 6% of the doctoral degrees awarded in the field of epidemiology (NSF, 2010). This one year snapshot of attainment estimated that 17 of the 273 doctoral degrees in the field were granted to Blacks. Aschengrau and Seage (2008) defined epidemiology as “the study of the distribution and determinants of disease frequency in human populations and the application of this study to control health problems” (p. 6). The research in epidemiology is often organized by disease or source of risk – e.g., infectious disease, cancer, occupational injury, psychiatric, respiratory, intestinal, renal, dental, or cardiovascular. Another way to categorize the research in epidemiology is by method – spatial, meta-analysis, economic, environmental, clinical, surveillance, disease informatics, biostatistics, and so on. For example, the progress in the Human Genome Project, in computing power, and in the development of powerful statistical approaches has expanded the analytical possibilities in genetic epidemiology, a discipline that seeks to understand how genetics, environmental factors, and their interactions produce various diseases and traits in humans. Genetic epidemiology as well as the other methodologies associated with field of epidemiology is part of population science where population history and dynamics are modeled. The scientific discipline of epidemiology is rarely part of discussions focused on opportunity pathways in STEM fields. Nor are many other fields aligned with population science (e.g., demography and population sociology) included in these discussions. These omissions represent blind spots that deserve to be clearly seen as part of discussions of STEM fields that require sound inquiry and serve to advance human development and human capital, while contributing to the common good.


Tate, W.F. and Frierson, H.T. (2011), "Chapter 16 STEM Blind Spots: Moving Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales", Frierson, H.T. and Tate, W.F. (Ed.) Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans' Paths to STEM Fields (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 325-332.



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