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ImageA new national survey highlights how U.S. women and minority scientists were discouraged from pursuing STEM Careers.


40% of today's women and underrepresented minority chemists and chemical engineers in the United States say they were discouraged from pursuing a STEM career (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) at some point in their lives, according to a new Bayer Corporation survey.

The study, commissioned by the Bayer Corporation, a US subsidiary of Bayer AG, the German international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group, was conducted by Pittsburgh-based research firm Campos Inc., and polled a total of 1,226 Caucasian women, Asian women, African-American men, African-American women, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, American Indian men and American Indian women.

Colleges and Professors Falling Short

According to the survey, 60% of respondents cited U.S. colleges as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, while 44% saw their college professors as the individuals who were most likely responsible for the discouragement.

The U.S. K-12 education system was also deemed as falling short with survey respondents on average giving it a "D" for the job it does to encourage minorities to study STEM subjects and a "D+" for girls.

60% of respondents cited U.S. colleges as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, while 44% saw their college professors as the individuals who were most likely responsible.


The Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey polled 1,226 female, African-American, Hispanic and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers about their childhood, academic and workplace experiences that play a role in attracting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

"If we want to achieve true diversity in America's STEM workforce, we must first understand the root causes of under-representation and the ongoing challenges these groups face," said Greg Babe, President and CEO, Bayer Corporation. "We want to knock down barriers. If we can do that, we'll be able to develop the attitudes, behaviours, opportunities and resources that lead to success."

Key Findings from the Survey

Some of the key findings from the study included:

  • Regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, interest in science begins in early childhood. Nearly 60% of the respondents say they first became interested in science by age 11.
  • Image More than three-quarters (77%) say significant numbers of women and underrepresented minorities are missing from the U.S. STEM workforce today because they were not identified, encouraged or nurtured to pursue STEM studies early on.
  • The top three causes/contributors to under-representation in STEM include lack of quality Science and Maths education programs in poorer school districts (75%), persistent stereotypes that say STEM isn't for girls or minorities (66%) and financial issues related to the cost of education (53%), according to the survey respondents.
  • Science teachers play a larger role than parents in stimulating and sustaining interest in science. During the elementary school years, 70% of the respondents say teachers have the most influence. During high school, 88% say teachers do.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of those polled say under-representation exists in their company's/organizations/institution's workforce.
  • Leading workplace barriers for the female and minority chemists and chemical engineers include managerial bias (40 %), company/ organizational/ institutional bias (38 percent) and a lack of professional development (36%), little or no access to networking opportunities (35%), and a lack of promotional/advancement opportunities (35%).
  • Nearly three-quarters (70%) of the chemists/chemical engineers say it is harder for women to succeed in their field than it is for men, while more than two-thirds (67%) think it is more difficult for minorities to succeed than it is for non-minorities.
  • Across the board, respondents give their companies /organizations /institutions a "C" for having women and underrepresented minorities in senior positions to serve as role models and mentors for the younger employees.
'Interest in Science is Genderless and Colourless'

"This and previous Bayer Facts surveys confirm something I've long known – that interest in science is genderless and colourless," said Dr. Mae C. Jemison, astronaut, medical doctor, chemical engineer and Bayer's long-time Making Science Make Sense® spokesperson, about the survey.

According to the Jemison, the first Black astronaut in the United States, "all children have an innate interest in science and the world around them. But for many children, that interest hits roadblocks along an academic system that is still not blind to gender or colour.

"These roadblocks have nothing to do with intellect, innate ability or talent," she said. "On the contrary, they are the kinds of larger, external socio-cultural and economic forces that students have no control over. As students, they cannot change the fact that they do not have access to quality science and math education in their schools. But adults can. And we must."

Formalized in 1995, Making Science Make Sense is Bayer's national award-winning initiative to advance science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science learning, employee volunteerism and public education.

ImageAn inaugural Future Talent Summit brought together senior industry leaders to discuss the talent crisis facing the oil, gas and power sectors.

In the midst of one of the greatest periods of expansion in its history, the global oil and gas industry is facing a severe labour crunch. Years of lay-offs, an aging workforce and a decline in the number of skilled workers entering the industry is already causing increased costs, project delays and cancellations. The need for talent is potentially one of the greatest threats to industry expansion.The Summit, organized by CWC, an independent provider of energy analysis and information, represented a global community of industry experts and decision makers who met to discuss the global skills crisis facing the sector and find strategic and long term solutions to this very real problem.

Delegates came from around the world, representing a diversity of countries including the USA, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago, Angola, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, South Africa, Ghana and Egypt, to address the skill shortage in the global energy Industry.

Facts and Figures

The nature of the crisis, says CWC, is evidenced by the following facts and figures:

  • The average age of workers in the oil and gas industry is 49 – this is compared to in the 30s for other technology based industries.
  • An estimated 40% of the industry’s skilled professionals will reach retirement age by 2010.
  • There are not enough engineers to meet the demands of current projects - a shortfall of 10-15% is likely by 2010.
  • With a likely increase in conventional and nuclear power plants around the world, competition for the already stretched talent pool is likely to increase.

The shortage of experienced energy people is real because the industry is expanding quickly, said Frederik Rengers, CEO of Worldwideworker, one of the speakers at the event.

Citing key events in recent years, Rengers noted that in 1981 the drilling boom ended and oil became too cheap, leading to industry lay-offs and a remarkable period of consolidation. After 2004, cheap oil disappeared and world demand rose exponentially. By 2005 any ‘spare capacity of people’ was used up and, from 2006, companies started to recruit aggressively. In 2007, many people changed jobs leading to intensified recruitment in 2008.

So, what is actually happening?

According to Renger, whose company Worldwideworker provides HR services to the global energy industry, more graduates have been hired and trained and salaries and day rates have increased.

There are not enough engineers to meet the demands of current projects - a shortfall of 10-15% is likely by 2010.

Despite few people leaving the industry, people have been able to change jobs, improve their careers and earn faster promotions. Companies have made record profits while employees have had more choice in their career and location of work.

{mosimage}According to the CEO, today while "there is a short term capacity problem and recruitment is more difficult than three years ago, in general I think we are all experiencing the rebuilding and expansion of a healthy and exciting global industry."

Image of the Industry

One major drawback to recruiting talent into this sector, says Worldwideworker, is the increasingly negative image of working within the industry.

According to Renger, renewable energy now offers energy companies a unique opportunity to evolve into a renewable energy force. "The Oil Age has brought a lot of prosperity, health and environmental progress to the world and needs to continue to evolve and re-invent itself. Really embracing the Renewable Energy opportunities will help everybody, from Capital Investments to Image.

"Most registered job titles show a shift to mid stream and petrochemical candidates, says Renger, and include HSE Manager, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Finance & Administration, Geologist, Project Manager and Petroleum Engineer as well as executive level management roles.

There has been a globalization of mid-careers candidates and 10% of new registrations to his company in 2008 came from Nigeria.Photo: Courtesy of CWC

To help mitigate the consequences of Ghana’s brain drain of professional health workers, the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) is working with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and other partners on a project called MIDA Ghana Health.


The project, which will end in mid 2007, aims to attract members of the African Diaspora in the European Union who wish to make a contribution to the improvement of the health sector in Ghana.

This is realized in two ways. On the one hand, Ghanaian and other African migrants living and working in the Netherlands and other EU countries can transfer knowledge, skills and experience through temporary assignments in Ghana.  On the other hand, health workers from Ghana have the opportunity to access specialized training at healthcare institutions in the Netherlands.

For further information:

www.iom-nederland.nl  (go to "programmes" and "migration)

Nigerian Central Bank Governor highlights the impact of new banking reforms on the sector’s skills needs.

“The Nigerian banking sector can never be the same again,” said Professor Charles Soludo, Governor the Central Bank of Nigeria, during a presentation on the progress of Nigeria’s radical reform of its banking sector.  Speaking at the event organised in London in October by Business in Africa Events, the Governor made clear his determination to push through the reforms which are set to provide an enormous boost to capital market growth and investment opportunities in Nigeria.

ImageThe banking and financial reforms are part of the key elements of Nigeria’s economic development agenda and will transform the banking landscape.  Already over 22 groupings of banks involving 67 banks are in the process of merging and, according to the Governor, at least 20 stronger and more reliable banks are likely to emerge at the end of 2005 when the reforms are set for completion.

The 13 point banking reform agenda was designed to address the weak capital base of the majority of the country’s banks, poor corporate governance, high unit costs and unsustainable competition.  The reforms, which include raising the capital base of banks from N2 billion (US$16 million) to a minimum of N25 billion (about US$185 million), should create banking institutions that investors can rely on and that depositors can trust, thereby enhancing transparency, professionalism, corporate governance and accountability.

These reforms will also serve to highlight crucial gaps in the skills currently to be found within the banking sector and those needed within the new banking environment.  Highlighting what he termed the current ‘mismatch’ of skills in the sector, the Governor stressed that the sector will now need to develop professional bankers who can develop effective banking services, structure transactions and drive down costs.

“The reforms have led to a change of approach and now we have to think and be bankers……the right human capital – knowledgeable, exposed and cosmopolitan – is now critical.”

Addressing the human resources implications of the new banking regime, Tony Elumelu, CEO of United Bank of Africa (UBA) plc, presented a case study of the impact of reform on his bank which underwent the first consolidation within the sector.  Applying the principles of professionalism and meritocracy to the merger that created UBA plc had led to an increase in productivity within the bank, he said. 

 “The reforms have led to a change of approach and now we have to think and be bankers”, he stressed.  “The right human capital – knowledgeable, exposed and cosmopolitan – is now critical.”  Pointing to the new bank’s ability to attract Nigerians in the Diaspora away from institutions such as the IFC, General Electric, Citibank and Goldman Sachs, Elumelu was positive about the renewed credibility and confidence of the financial system.

Professor Soludo, who took up his appointment as Governor in May 2004 and was recently voted ‘Best Central Bank Governor of the Year’, cited positive results from the changes that have already taken place and spoke of a new culture of professionalism and customer-centred operations becoming increasingly visible.  On a wider scale, interest rates have dropped to their lowest level since the liberalisation of the financial system in the late 1980’s and lending to the private sector is on the rise, with funding of large scale projects beginning to happen.  The reforms have already seen a significant growth in capital market activity and banking sector stocks have moved into the preferred portfolio for Nigerian investors by over 50% in the year since June 2004. 

With a population now estimated at 150 million, Nigeria is the giant of Africa.  For sub-Saharan Africa to go forward with meeting the Millennium Development Goals, the success of Nigeria’s banking revolution will be imperative.

ImageJournalism – and especially TV and radio journalism – still has a reputation for being almost impossible to break into if you don’t have contacts in the industry. Not so, says Tim Fenton, a former journalist and senior manager with BBC News.

Why be a journalist? The pay – except for a tiny minority at the very top – is not great. The hours are generally long and unpredictable. And, in countries like the UK and US, journalists are regarded as almost as untrustworthy as politicians.

The answer for most aspiring reporters will have something to do with a belief that successful societies need good journalism.

Anthropology suggests that an idea of ‘news’ – a shared awareness of events beyond our direct experience is common to all societies. It gives us a sense of security, control and confidence. It’s an important part of the ‘glue’ that bonds societies. Journalism is the system created to supply this news.

Engaging the Reader

Moreover, as societies get more sophisticated and complex, the need for quality journalism increases. As people work harder and have less spare time, so they need the information necessary to run their lives in as tightly focused a form as possible. As governments and corporations get bigger and more powerful, so the need for independent monitoring of those with power becomes more and more important.

The need for good journalists can only increase.

One of the earliest forms of journalism was the acta diurnal reports of proceedings in the Roman Senate and written journalism remains the first step for many. That makes sense because an ability to write clearly, concisely and in a way that engages the reader is fundamental whatever the medium. Writing for a website requires slightly different skills from printed newspapers but both teach the same basic skills.

As well as being able to write, reporters need a flair for storytelling, an original, inventive mind, enthusiasm and dogged determination. You’ll need to be able to deal with simple software packages and recording equipment, but nothing that’s too complicated.

Broadcast News

If you’re going to move on from writing to broadcasting, you’ll need a good voice. Radio is a good place to start - it helps a reporter learn to write for broadcast and to polish his or her voice. Television introduces the requirement to be able to tell a story primarily with pictures.

But is it worth starting any of this if you’re not white, Oxbridge-educated and middle-class? The answer is ‘yes’. Organizations like the BBC are acutely aware of the fact that their newsrooms do not reflect the diversity of the audiences they seek to serve and commercial news organizations know that if they can’t reach every sector of society they won’t be able to maximize their advertising revenue.

To get a first job, you’ll need some talent and persistence. Interviews with reputable organizations are rarely ‘stitched up’. If there is dishonesty, it is usually in the form of a willingness to interview candidates who have little realistic prospect. Two golden rules for interviews: keep your answers short and focused and prepare, particularly by reading or watching the relevant output.

Almost all BBC journalism jobs are advertised on the Corporation’s website here: https://jobs.bbc.co.uk

Tim Fenton was a BBC News correspondent and, later, as Managing Editor of BBC News Online was in charge of recruitment and training in a department of around 200 journalists. He left the BBC to travel with his family. A registered Interim Manager with Interims for Development (www.Interimsfd.com) Tim is now a freelance trainer, writer and consultant.

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