STEM Career Aspirations of Black Adolescents Trail Those of Young Whites

Demand for jobs in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and in the health care field is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations in the United States. However, the current STEM and health care workforces are characterized by demographic disparities and a lack of diversity in many positions. For the United States to equitably meet national demands for STEM and health care jobs, it is important to understand key factors that may be associated with students’ decisions to pursue STEM and health-related careers.

A new report from the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education documents the career aspirations of 15-year-old Americans. Some of the data is broken down by race.

Some 18 percent of White teens planned to pursue a career in STEM fields. Only 12 percent of young African Americans believed they would go on to a career in STEM fields. But a slightly higher percentage of Black youth said they aspired to a career in health care than was the case for White teenagers.

The report further breaks down the aspirations of Black and White teens by their scores on tests for proficiency in science, mathematics, and other disciplines.

The full study, “Health and STEM Career Expectations and Science Literacy Achievement of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students,” may be downloaded by clicking here.

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