The Catholic University of America

Aug. 31, 2006

Sociology Professor Awarded $250,000 NSF Grant

Funds Awarded to Study Asian-American Women and the Study of Science

WASHINGTON - The Catholic University of America's Sandra Hanson, professor of sociology, has been awarded a $255,649 grant from the National Science Foundation to survey and analyze the way that gender and race affect the science education experiences of Asian-American youth.

The three-year grant, titled "Gender, Race and Science: Asian-American Women as the Model Minority?" will, in large part, fund an innovative, Web-based interactive survey of 1,000 Asian-American and white school-age students. The students being surveyed will listen to vignettes depicting their counterparts in the science classroom and then answer questions based on their impressions.

"The grant will fund an experiment within a survey, not just a compilation of secondary data," Hanson says. "How do Asian-Americans in my sample respond to an Asian-American girl versus an Asian-American boy who likes science? Are they going to encourage this person? Do they think this person will excel in science?"

This grant marks Hanson's sixth consecutive award by NSF to study gender and science issues. Her research has resulted in the 1996 book Lost Talent: Women in the Sciences, (Temple University Press) and a follow up, due in 2007, focusing on African-American women and science, tentatively titled Swimming Against the Tide (Temple University Press).

Hanson notes that while Asian-American girls do better than their white, female counterparts in the sciences, they are still eclipsed by Asian-American boys, a trend Hanson says is aided by certain time-honored stereotypes in the classroom. Hanson says she hopes her research will shed light on some gender and race misperceptions and result in changes in teaching, policy and recruitment in the area of science.

"I hope to help alter policies and programs in high school science education, so that teachers will be aware of cultural and gender differences and learn how to encourage and uncover talent in minority women," Hanson says.

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The Catholic University of America, located in the heart of Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the private and coeducational campus has approximately 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in 12 schools including architecture and planning, arts and sciences, canon law, engineering, law, library and information science, music, nursing, philosophy, social service, theology and religious studies, and a college for adult learners.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,