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Black Man in the Lab – Diversity in Academe

For two decades, academic researchers have asked the same questions about black males in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as the STEM fields:

Why do black males underperform in grade-school and high-school math and science classrooms? Why do so few pursue STEM degrees? Of those who enter college with the intention to major in STEM fields, why do so many switch to other disciplines? And among those who persist and graduate with science majors, why do so few proceed to Ph.D. programs?

The scarcity of black men earning STEM degrees has been documented repeatedly. For example, among American citizens and permanent residents, the proportion of black men at the Ph.D. level more than doubled between 1992 and 2012, but from a very low base of only 1 percent to 2 percent of all STEM degrees, according to the National Science Foundation’s annual “Survey of Earned Doctorates.” (These figures exclude psychology and the social sciences.) In 1992, black men earned only 139 of 11,485 STEM doctorates awarded, and in 2012, 334 of 16,545 STEM doctorates.