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Public Affairs Update

  • And we thought ASA’s 14,000-plus October membership milestone was a big number! . . . . In October, the United States joined China and India as the third country to be home to at least 300 million people. Changes since the United States reached 200 million in 1967 include: a decline in household size; rise in women’s labor force participation; increase in education; growth in the number of foreign-born people; and rising rates of child poverty. To commemorate the 300-million U.S. population, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), with sponsorship from the American Sociological Association and other groups, organized a symposium at the National Press Club highlighted the impacts of America’s growing population on the ways we work, live, and are governed. The symposium, “300 Million and Counting,” on October 5 in Washington, DC, was a tremendous success, with more than 100 people in attendance, including numerous media (i.e., Newsweek, CNN, CBS Radio News, Associated Press, New York Times, and Washington Post). Sociology was mentioned often by the eight presenters. William Butz, an economist at RAND and PRB President, moderated, and Faith Mitchell, National Academy of Sciences, opened the nearly four-hour session. Presentations included eyeopening synopses of recent Census statistics. See for more information and the webcast of the event.

  • New Population Council directorship is filled by sociologist Wendy Baldwin . . . . The Population Council, an international, an influential nonprofit organization that conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research, announced in September that sociologist Wendy Baldwin has assumed the leadership of the organization’s new Poverty, Gender, and Youth program. Baldwin, University of Kentucky Vice President for Research, will play a leading role in setting the program’s agenda and establishing its overall strategy, goals, and priorities. She will work with the Council’s regional directors and worldwide professional staff in priority setting, program development, fundraising, and staff recruitment, and will represent the Council to governments, donors, and professional organizations. She is the first of three new directors of programs created as the result of the Population Council’s strategic planning initiative. She has served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For the past 20 years she has worked with the World Health Organization, serving since 1988 as the chair and collaborating scientist of the Steering Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research on Reproductive Health. Baldwin’s long publication record includes important contributions in the areas of reproductive health and adolescent behavior.

  • OBSSR announces Olster as its newest Deputy Director . . . . The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) within the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is pleased to announce the appointment of physiological psychologist Deborah Olster as Deputy Director of OBSSR. Olster received a PhD in physiology from the University of Michigan, specializing in reproductive endocrinology. After doing postdoctoral work in behavioral endocrinology at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, she joined the faculty of the Psychology Department at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Her primary research interest is the neuroendocrine control of reproduction. She has investigated seasonal and pubertal transitions in reproductive function, sexual motivation, and reproductive dysfunction related to stress, obesity and under-nutrition. In 2002, she joined the OBSSR to advise on science issues and develop programs at the intersection of the biological and behavioral and social sciences. OBSSR’s mission is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease.

  • Four decades of STEM degrees (1966-2004) and a half-century of STEM workforce (1950 to 2000) . . . . Between 1966 and 2004, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields more than doubled, and women, minorities, and foreign nationals earned a significantly higher proportion of STEM degrees in 2004 than in 1966, according to a recent report by the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST). The report found that STEM degrees represented about a third of all U.S. degrees awarded in 2004, approximately the same proportion that they represented every year since 1966. Women’s share of STEM bachelor’s degrees doubled in the past 40 years. In 1966, women earned 24.5 percent of the STEM bachelor’s degrees; by 2004, they earned 49.2 percent. Women also made gains at the master’s and doctoral levels. The report, part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-funded STEM Workforce Data Project, is based on data from the National Science Foundation’s WebCASPAR Database. It looks at the data by field, sex, race/ethnicity, and citizenship. The report and accompanying data archives are available at From 1950 to 2000, growth in STEM occupations far outpaced the growth of the total labor force, according to another CPST white paper. The paper, also part of the Sloan Foundation-funded STEM Workforce Data Project, is based on U.S. Census microdata. It examines the total number of STEM workers, as well as the percentage of those who are women, minorities, and foreign born. The paper reported that the total labor force grew 130 percent to 139 million, but the STEM workforce grew 669 percent to 6.9 million in the same time period. The paper is available at