Underrepresentation of minorities in natural resource professions : an examination of African Americans Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6108vg41t

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  • The fact that African Americans are under represented in the natural resource professions is well known and commonly acknowledged. Terms such as conspicuously absent, manifest imbalance and zero representation have all been used to describe the current status of African American natural resource professionals. The data suggests that in the past 20 years, the numbers have been as low as two-tenths of one percent nationwide. There is no clear understanding as to why there are so few African Americans in this field, moreover, there is a shortage of practical suggestions for improving the situation in the future. It was the intent of this study to provide the critical and useful information needed to understand the inhibitions, biases and barriers that are related to the underrepresentation of African Americans in this field. In order to accomplish the goals and objectives of this research, 10 oral history interviews were conducted and a mail out survey was designed. The survey was mailed to 80 natural resource professionals nationwide. A total of 61 usable replies (76%) were received and included in the study. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the individual questions and the chi square test was used to test four alternative hypotheses. The level of significance was set at .05. The findings in this study point to several critical factors that contribute to the underrepresentation of African American in natural resource professions. These findings include: systematic racism, feelings of isolation, too few mentors and role models (regardless of ethnicity) and lack of cultural awareness in the workplace. In order for the underrepresentation to be corrected these factors must be made known and addressed. Only after a clear understanding of the problem is represented can long term solutions be considered. The information presented here will be beneficial to the entire natural resource community and its endeavor to increase career options for under represented minorities in the coming years.
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