Blacks and Other Women of Color Are Scarce in STEM Higher Education and the Workforce

A new report from The Education Trust shows that vast disparities in attainment by race, ethnicity, and gender persist in STEM education and employment, thereby limiting access and opportunities for social and economic mobility for some — particularly women and people of color.

Women, and especially women of color, also fare worse in STEM jobs, as many are paid less than their male counterparts. Often, women need more degrees and, consequently, take out more loans to generate an income that is comparable to that of their male colleagues.

Students from marginalized groups still have less access to AP STEM courses in high school and lower STEM degree attainment rates than their White male colleagues. Moreover, a significant number of STEM graduates of color come out of a small number of colleges and universities with diverse faculties; historically Black colleges and universities, for example, produce 25 percent of all Black graduates in STEM fields.

Until 2013, Black women surpassed Black men in STEM doctoral attainment. Between 2013 and 2014, attainment among Black women and men decreased, but after 2014, Black men began outpacing Black women in the attainment of STEM doctoral degrees. STEM doctoral degree attainment among Black women decreased from 1.3 percent to 1.1 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded in these fields between 2010 to 2019.

Without a nurturing, encouraging academic environment, students do not have the same opportunity to thrive as they would with greater support. Many women of color in STEM face a host of barriers, including challenging campus climates; racism and sexism, absence of diverse faculty; a lack of culturally relevant curricula; and individualistic culture. Without pathways to higher-paying jobs, including STEM careers, Black women and Latinas will continue to earn disproportionately low salaries. Advancing STEM equity also includes combating racism and sexism in higher education and the workplace.

The authors conclude by saying that “closing the gap in access to higher education is a crucial step toward creating a more just and equitable society. And investing in the success of students of color is vital for the future economic competitiveness and social cohesion of our country. Empowering more women of color to pursue and thrive in STEM careers would help create a dynamic and innovative workforce that can advance the country’s competitiveness in a technology-driven global economy.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs