Willie Pearson Jr.

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Willie Pearson Jr.
Photo of Willie Pearson Jr
Pearson in 2017
Willie Pearson

(1945-06-29) 29 June 1945 (age 77)
Alma mater
Known forStudies and encouragement of African-American scientists
Scientific career
  • Sociology
  • History
ThesisOne in a hundred: a study of black American science doctorates [1] (1980)

Willie Pearson Jr. is an American sociologist, who has studied and encouraged the participation of African-Americans and other minorities, as well as women, in science. He has published several books on the experience of African-American scientists with PhDs, including major studies on chemists and engineers. Pearson has had a leading role in many activities and policy development roles in relation to the participation of minorities and women in science, including chairing the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE), a congressionally mandated committee at the National Science Foundation (NSF). He served on the U.S. president's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Early life and education[edit]

Willie Pearson was born in Rusk, Texas on 29 June 1945.[2] After his parents divorced, he and his older sister, Vassie King, were raised by their mother.[2] He attended Emmett J. Scott High School in Tyler, Texas, going on to study at the small, historically-black, liberal arts college, Wiley College and graduating with a B.A. in sociology in 1968.[2] In 1971, Pearson earned his masters degree in sociology from Atlanta University.[3]

Pearson later undertook doctoral research at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, gaining his PhD in 1980/81 with the dissertation, One in a hundred: a study of black American science doctorates.[1][4] He undertook postdoctoral studies at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the U.S. Congress' Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).[5]


After completing his masters degree, Pearson briefly worked for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the U.S. Army in Kansas City, Missouri.[2] In 1972, he was appointed to the sociology faculty of Grambling State University in Louisiana. In 1980, Pearson joined Wake Forest University in North Carolina.[3]

In 2001, he was appointed to professor and chair of the Department of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.[5] Soon after, Pearson chaired the U.S. Congress mandated the establishment of the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE),[6] a congressionally mandated committee in the National Science Foundation (NSF) which reports biennially to the U.S. Congress.[7]

In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Pearson to his re-established Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.[8] He has also served on committees and advisory boards and panels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Sociological Association (ASA), and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).[4][9]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Congressional Fellowship, Morris K. Udall Award, U.S. Office of Technology Assessment (1988-1989).[10]
  • Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service (2000) for contributions to the Wake Forest University campus community.[11]
  • Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Honor Society) Distinguished Lecturer (2001-2002).[12]
  • National Associate of the National Academies of Sciences (2001).[13][2]


  • Black Scientists, White Society, and Colorless Science: a Study of Universalism in American Science (1985) [14]
  • Blacks, Science, and American Education (1989) (with H. Kenneth Bechtel) [15]
  • Who Will Do Science? Educating the Next Generation (1994) [16]
  • Beyond Small Numbers: Voices of African American PhD Chemists (2005) [17]
  • Changing the Face of Engineering: The African American Experience (2015) (Edited with John Brooks Slaughter and Yu Tao) [18]
  • Advancing Women in Science: An International Perspective (2015) (Edited with Lisa Frehill and Connie McNeely) [19]


  1. ^ a b Pearson, Willie (1980). One in a hundred: a study of black American science doctorates. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. OCLC 213745998.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Willie Pearson, Jr.'s Biography". The HistoryMakers. The History Makers. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Four Awarded Wake Forest Professorships". Inside WFU - news for faculty and staff. Wake Forest University. 18 April 1997. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Willie Pearson, Jr". www.cpnas.org. National Academies of Sciences. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Willie Pearson, Ph.D. - Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts". Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  6. ^ Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (2003). 2002 Biennial Report to Congress (PDF). Washington DC: National Science Foundation. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  7. ^ James, SM; Singer, SR; Elgin, Sarah C. R. (2016). "From the NSF: The National Science Foundation's Investments in Broadening Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education through Research and Capacity Building". CBE: Life Sciences Education. 15 (3): fe7. doi:10.1187/cbe.16-01-0059. PMC 5008905. PMID 27587853.
  8. ^ "President Obama Re-establishes President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Announces Members". whitehouse.gov. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Pearson Invited to Serve on National Academies of Science Panel". Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at Georgia Tech. Georgia Institute of Technology. 21 April 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  10. ^ Annual Report to the Congress: Fiscal Year 1995 (Part 14 of 18) (PDF). Washington DC: U.S. Congress. 1995. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Wake Forest professors receive Schoonmaker, Reinhardt awards at convocation ceremony". Inside WFU. Wake Forest University. 28 September 2000. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturers, 2001-2002". Sixma Xi. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  13. ^ "National Associates". www.nationalacademies.org. National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  14. ^ Pearson, Willie Jr (1985). Black scientists, white society, and colorless science : a study of universalism in American science. Millwood NY: Associated Faculty Press. ISBN 0804693463.
  15. ^ Pearson, Willie Jr; Bechtel, H. Kenneth (1989). Blacks, science, and American education. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813513979.
  16. ^ Pearson, Willie Jr; Fechter, Alan (1994). Who will do science? Educating the next generation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801848571.
  17. ^ Pearson, Willie Jr (2005). Beyond small numbers: voices of African American PhD chemists. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. ISBN 0762305622.
  18. ^ Slaughter, John Brooks; Tao, Yu; Pearson, Willie Jr (2015). Changing the face of engineering : the African American experience. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-1421418155.
  19. ^ Pearson, Willie Jr; Frehill, Lisa M.; McNeely, Connie L. (2015). Advancing women in science: an international perspective. Springer. ISBN 978-3319086293.

External links[edit]