Jeffrey Mervis, ScienceInsider , 1 May 2012
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is regarded as the most prestigious honorary scientific society in the country. But it also has a reputation for being old, white, and male. Today its members took a big step toward changing their image by inviting a younger and more diverse group of scientists to join them.
This year's class of 84 new members includes 26 women. That number far exceeds the previous record of 19, set in 2005. In addition, the class's average age has dropped by 3.5 years from last year, to 58.
"We are trying to become more diverse by age, gender, geographic location, and ethnicity," says Susan Wessler, a plant geneticist at the University of California, Riverside, and NAS home secretary. "But we haven't changed the criterion—it's still outstanding science."