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Study shows no improvement in the relative number of black students in the physical sciences over the past decade
November 25, 2015 | Emily Conover
African Americans are underrepresented in the physical sciences, and the gap shows no hint of closing, according to a new report from the American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center. The study, based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, looked at the number of bachelor's degrees earned between 2003 and 2013. Although the number of degrees African Americans earned in the physical sciences increased by 39 percent over that time period, the increase was outpaced by the 53 percent overall growth in physical sciences degrees.
In physics, the number of degrees African Americans earned stayed flat, despite an overall 58 percent increase in physics degrees. The study likewise found a 10 percent increase in engineering degrees earned by African Americans, but a 29 percent increase in engineering degrees overall. Earth sciences, however, did see a significant boost in the number of degrees earned by African Americans, with a 147 percent increase over the ten years, compared to a 63 percent increase overall. In astronomy, an average of only 5 degrees are earned by African Americans per year, which was not enough to observe a significant trend.