Advocate for Diversity in STEM Fields to Deliver Russell Women in Science Lecture October 25

Oakland, CA—September 26, 2016

The challenges facing women of color in science over the last 40 years is the topic of this year’s Russell Women in Science Lecture Series at Mills College. The annual event, scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2016 will feature Shirley Malcom, head of education and human resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Malcom’s lecture is titled “The Double Bind: Women of Color in Science, 40 Years and Counting!” It will address how far women of color have come since she co-published a landmark report in 1976 titled “The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science.”

In that 1976 report, Malcom noted that “Most of us experienced strong negative influences associated with race or ethnicity as children and teenagers but felt more strongly the handicaps for women as we moved into post college training in graduate schools or later in careers.”

Today, Malcom is an internationally renowned advocate for the advancement of women and minorities in science and engineering. At AAAS she works to improve access to education and careers in science and engineering and to enhance public science literacy. The organization is the world’s largest general scientific society, headquartered in Washington DC.

Growing up in segregated Alabama, Malcom navigated racism and sexism on her way to earning her PhD in ecology. Although she received stellar marks in high school, her education did not adequately prepare her for college. Confronted with chemistry equipment she had never seen before and faring poorly on her first two quizzes at the University of Washington, Malcom said she finally had to ask for help.

“I had to make the plea I was not dumb, I was underprepared,” Malcom told WBUR radio in an interview about the state of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in America. “A lot of students are out there in the same situations. Once I was successful, I fed on my success. I said, ‘Ok I can do this.’”

National research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that jobs in STEM fields are growing faster than any other part of the US economy. Of the 1.6 million women in science and engineering occupations, about one third are women of color, according to 2013 figures from the National Science Foundation. But women are still far outnumbered by men whose 2013 numbers reached 4 million.

Malcom is a former member of the National Science Board, the policy making body of the National Science Foundation and served on President Bill Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, she received her doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University. She holds a master’s degree in zoology from University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Washington.

The Mills College Russell Women in Science Lecture Series is funded by former Mills Trustee Cristine Russell ’71. The lectures introduce students to leading female scientists and highlight the career opportunities available to young women in the sciences.

Russell is currently an adjunct lecturer in public policy and a senior fellow in the Environment and Natural Resources Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written about science, health and the environment for more than three decades. She is a contributing editor to Columbia Journalism Review, a correspondent for The Atlantic, and a former national science reporter for The Washington Post and The Washington Star.

Russell Women in Science Lecture Series
Shirley Malcom
“The Double Bind: Women of Color in Science, 40 Years and Counting!”
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA
4:30 pm reception, Mills College Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy
5:30 pm lecture, Mills College, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall
The event is free and open to the public

About Mills College
Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with graduate programs for women and men. Ranked one of the top regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of The Best 381 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers who take and inspire action. For more information, visit