Shirley Mahaley Malcom, a Senior Advisor and Director of SEA Change at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and publisher of the Science family of journals, was born on September 6, 1946, in Birmingham, Alabama to Ben Mahaley and Lillie Funderburg Mahaley. Shirley has a sister, Sandra Mahaley Rayford.
A product of the city’s public school system, Malcom graduated from George Washington Carver High School in 1962. Afterward, she enrolled at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle at 16, received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1966, and was the first Black woman to get that degree from UW Biology. Two years later, in 1968, Malcom earned a Master of Science degree in zoology from the University of California at Los Angeles. She also participated in civil rights marches, occupations, and strikes during this period.
In 1974, Malcom earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania. She then served as an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. A year later, in 1975, she accepted a position as a research assistant in the Office of Opportunities in Science of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. That year, she also co-authored a landmark report, “The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science,” that examined minority women as the victims of racism and sexism. In addition, she penned the article “Who will do science?” which was a highlight in Scientific American.
From 1977 to 1979, Malcom served as a program officer in the Science Education Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Virginia. Ten years later in 1989, Malcom was named head of the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs. There she developed programs advancing education in science, mathematics, and technology at all levels and managed a staff of 50 on an annual budget of $6 million. Also, in 1989, she was awarded by the University of Washington and the UW Alumni Association the highest honor, the Alumna Summa Laude Dignata Award. In 1993, she was appointed to the National Science Board by U.S. President Bill Clinton.
In 2000, Malcom was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden.
It is in addition to 16 other honorary doctorates. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy.
Malcom serves as a board trustee of Morgan State University, California Institute of Technology, Heinz Endowments, Public Agenda and Digital Promise Global, and is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Shirley Mahaley Malcom is married to Horace Malcom, a retired principal professional staff physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. They parented two daughters, Kelly Malcom and Lindsey Malcom Piqueux.