Review of Gender and Racial Diversity in Radiation Protection

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Abstract

The rapidly changing demographics of the United States workforce include a large number of women and members of minority groups that are currently underrepresented in science and engineering-related education and careers. Recent research indicates that while singular incidents of sexism do exist, gender bias more often affects women in various subtle ways. The effects of stereotype threat and the lack of appropriate mentoring and female role models are samples of the possible factors contributing to performance and longevity for women in math-intensive fields. To address how this issue affects those in radiation protection, the current status of women in the field is reviewed as a progression through the scientific pipeline, from education and employment to positions in scientific bodies and professional recognition, with primary focus on American women and institutions. Racial diversity demographics are reviewed where available. Findings indicate women and minority racial groups are underrepresented in multiple aspects of education, research, and leadership. While gender diversity across the field has not yet reached gender parity, trending indicates that the percentage of women earning degrees in radiation protection has consistently increased over the last four decades. Diversity of racial groups, however, has remained fairly consistent and is well below national averages. Diverse perspectives have been documented in collective problem-solving to lead to more innovative solutions.

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