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Public Affairs Update

  • Women: Feeling stereotyped with lower academic performance? You’re not alone . . . . A report from the National Academies finds that stereotypes negatively affect women’s academic performance. Women exposed to academic stereotyping demonstrate poorer scholastic performance than women who are not exposed to such stereotypes. This exposure to stereotypes belittling women’s academic skills caused female students who participated in the study to become distracted and worried, which interfered with their ability to use problem-solving skills most effectively. The report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, concludes that women are underrepresented at higher levels of science and engineering academics because of the influence of gender bias and the disadvantages that such bias generates. For more information, see

  • Census survey on the verge of elimination receives a vote to fully fund by the House Subcommittee . . . . The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies has voted to provide an additional $19 million to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The SIPP is the nation’s only survey that collects essential data on the effectiveness of Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, unemployment insurance and other government programs. In early June, the Bush Administration reversed course and decided not to eliminate the SIPP; however, it had not requested any additional funding to execute it. With the subcommittee’s vote, the Census Bureau could run the full program if this funding is approved by the House and Senate. See for information on the survey.

  • A demographer is nominated as the next director of the U.S. Census Bureau . . . . In June, Steve Murdock, Chairman of Demography and Organization Studies at the University of Texas-San Antonio, was nominated by the Bush Administration to be the next director of the Census Bureau. Murdock is also the Director of the Texas State Data Center. Murdock, although a democrat, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was Texas’s chief expert on Census issues for the 1980, 1990, and 2000 censuses. He also has advised five Texas governors, five Lieutenant Governors, and four Speakers from both parties in Texas on the importance of Census participation and the uses of the economic, demographic, and social data for decision making. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Louis Kincannon, who served since 2002 and resigned late last year, agreeing to stay on until a replacement is confirmed (see January 2007 Footnotes, "Public Affairs Update").

  • How to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of the nation’s health care system . . . . Health information technology is a promising emerging strategy to improve the current health care system, according to the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education (SHIRE), a policy research, advocacy, and outreach organization. To support its claim, SHIRE cites the Institute of Medicine’s 1985 Unequal Treatment landmark study, and the 2006 National Healthcare Disparities Report issued by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. In March, SHIRE produced a theoretical framework, titled the Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice Pathway, designed to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. A detailed report can be found at

  • Middle-income parents: Good news for the married but mixed news for the unmarried . . . . According to an Urban Institute report, between 1989 and 2004, all middle-income parents experienced moderate income growth, but only married parents have gained net worth. The results show similar increases in income for middle-income married parents (1.2 percent per year to $69,900 in 2004) and middle-income unmarried parents (1.6 percent per year to $28,160 in 2004). In contrast, trends in net worth—the value of what households own minus the value of what they owe—diverged by marital status. Middle-income married parents expanded their net worth by 2.8 percent per year (to $240,400 in 2004), or 52 percent for the 15-year period. The study used data from the Federal Reserve Board’s Surveys of Consumer Finances, and focused on households with children having incomes between the 40th and 60th percentiles of their group’s income distribution. Net worth among middle-income unmarried parents was more unstable and was 15 percent lower in 2004 (or $46,500) than in 1989. For more information, see

  • More good news for families: Family unemployment continues decline . . . . In 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor figures, the share of families with an unemployed member declined to 6.4 percent from 7.0 percent in the prior year. The proportion of families with an unemployed member has declined each year since 2003, when it was 8.1 percent. Of the nation’s 77 million families, 82.4 percent had at least one employed member in 2006, which is essentially unchanged from 2005. These data are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 households. For more on CPS, see