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Minority Scientists and Engineers [28]

Field
Employment and Unemployment
Sector of Employment
Salaries

With the exception of Asians, minorities are a small proportion of scientists and engineers in the United States. Asians were 9 percent of scientists and engineers in the United States in 1993, although they were only 3 percent of the U.S. population. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians as a group were 23 percent of the U.S. population but only 6 percent of the total science and engineering labor force. [29] Blacks and Hispanics were each about 3 percent, and American Indians were less than 1 percent of scientists and engineers. (See figure 5-1.)

Within the doctoral science and engineering labor force, the differences in representation of racial and ethnic groups are greater than is the case within the science and engineering labor force as a whole. Underrepresented minorities are an even smaller proportion of doctoral scientists and engineers in the United States than they are of bachelor's or master's scientists and engineers. Asians were 11 percent of doctoral scientists and engineers in the United States in 1993. Blacks were 2 percent, Hispanics were 2 percent, and American Indians were less than half of 1 percent of doctoral scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-33.)

Field

Within the science and engineering labor force as a whole, the distribution of minority scientists and engineers by field differs depending on the minority group. Asians are concentrated in engineering, in computer science, and in the life and physical sciences. Black scientists and engineers are disproportionately likely to be in the social sciences and in computer science. Hispanics and American Indians do not differ greatly from whites in terms of field. (See appendix table 5-2.)

Minority women, with the exception of Asian women, are similar to white women in terms of field. Black and Hispanic women are more likely than minority men to be in computer or mathematical sciences and in social sciences and are less likely than minority men to be in engineering. Asian women, although less likely than men to be engineers, are more likely than other women to be engineers. Asian women, like Asian men, are less likely than other women to be social scientists. (See appendix table 5-2.)

Black and American Indian scientists and engineers are more likely than white, Hispanic, or Asian scientists and engineers to have a bachelor's as the terminal degree. (See appendix table 5-2.) For example, 66 percent of black scientists and engineers in the U.S. labor force have a bachelor's as the highest degree compared to 55 percent of all scientists and engineers.

Among doctoral scientists and engineers, field differences in employment follow the differences in field of doctorate noted in chapter 4. Black doctoral scientists and engineers are concentrated in the social sciences and are underrepresented in the physical sciences and engineering. Half of black doctoral scientists and engineers, but only 29 percent of all scientists and engineers, are in the social sciences and psychology. Only 11 percent of black doctoral scientists and engineers compared with 21 percent of all doctoral scientists and engineers are in physical sciences, and only 11 percent of black doctoral scientists and engineers, compared with 16 percent of the total, are in engineering. (See appendix table 5-33.) Hispanic doctoral scientists and engineers are similar to whites in terms of field.

Asians are more likely than other doctoral scientists and engineers to be in engineering and are less likely than other doctoral scientists and engineers to be in social science. Thirty-seven percent of Asians are in engineering, compared with 16 percent of all doctoral scientists and engineers, and only 10 percent of Asians are social scientists, including psychologists, compared with 29 percent of all doctoral scientists and engineers. (See text table 5-3.)

Nativity is a large influence on Asians' choice of field. U.S.-born Asians are similar to whites in terms of field. Non-U.S.-born Asians, on the other hand, as well as non-U.S.-born members of other racial/ethnic groups, are disproportionately likely to be engineers. Non-U.S.-born scientists and engineers are about twice as likely as U.S.-born scientists and engineers, no matter what racial or ethnic group, to be engineers. (See appendix table 5-33.)

Employment and Unemployment

Bachelor's Scientists and Engineers

Recent minority bachelor's science and engineering graduates differ in their pursuit of postgraduation education as well as their employment status. About 30 percent of new bachelor's graduates pursue graduate study either full time or part time. Among recent bachelor's graduates, Hispanics and Asians are more likely than whites or blacks to go on to graduate school. (See appendix table 5-34.) Differences in degree field do not appear to explain this, because a high proportion of Asian graduates received degrees in engineering and a high proportion of Hispanic graduates received degrees in social sciences. In neither of these fields do a high proportion of graduates pursue graduate education.

Minority bachelor's graduates differ in postgraduation employment status as well. Asian recent graduates are less likely than other groups to be employed outside their field but are more likely to be unemployed. (See figure 5-15.) The unemployment rate for new Asian bachelor's science and engineering graduates is 7 percent, compared with between 3 percent and 4 percent for white, black, and Hispanic graduates. (See appendix table 5-34.)

See appendix table 5-34.

The types of jobs that new bachelor's science and engineering graduates go into are related to their fields of degree. Graduates with degrees in engineering and the physical sciences are most likely to find employment in science and engineering occupations. Eighty percent or more of full-time employed new bachelor's engineers and physical scientists are employed in their fields, compared with 55 percent of comparable social scientists. (See appendix table 5-34.) Those with degrees in the social sciences are most likely to find employment in non-science-and-engineering occupations that are related to science and engineering. For example, black and Hispanic science and engineering graduates, more than half of whom earned degrees in the social sciences, are more likely than other racial or ethnic groups to be employed in social services. (See figures 5-16 and 5-17.)

See appendix table 5-35.

See appendix table 5-35.

Doctoral Scientists and Engineers

In 1993, unemployment rates of doctoral scientists and engineers by race/ethnicity did not differ significantly. (See appendix table 5-36.) The differences in unemployment were small and were consistent with what is expected from chance variations due to sampling.

Sector of Employment

Racial and ethnic groups differ in employment sector, partly because of differences in field. Among bachelor's and master's scientists and engineers, 60 percent of black, 66 percent of Hispanic, and 69 percent of Asian, compared with 73 percent of white bachelor's scientists and engineers, are employed in business or industry. (See appendix table 5-14.)

Among doctoral scientists and engineers, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are slightly more likely than whites to be employed in colleges and universities and in other educational sectors and are slightly less likely than whites to be employed in business or industry. (See figure 5-18.) Asians differ greatly from all the other racial or ethnic groups. They are less likely to be employed in colleges and universities and are much more likely to be employed in business or industry: 46 percent of Asians compared with 29 percent of whites are employed in industry. Partly, this can be explained by differences in field. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are concentrated in the social sciences, which are less likely to offer employment in business or industry, and are underrepresented in engineering, which is more likely to offer employment in business or industry. Asians, on the other hand, are overrepresented in engineering and thus are more likely to be employed by private for-profit employers.

See appendix table 5-16.

Academic Employment

Racial/ethnic groups differ in field of teaching and in academic employment characteristics. They differ in the types of institutions in which they teach, in employment status, in highest degree, in research activities, in rank, and in tenure.

Blacks are underrepresented and Asians are overrepresented among engineering faculty. Although blacks are 4 percent of science faculty, they are only 2 percent of engineering faculty. Within the sciences, black faculty are a higher proportion of social science faculty (6 percent) than they are of other disciplines. Asians are 15 percent of engineering faculty and 5 percent of science faculty (see figure 5-19).

See appendix table 5-18.

The types of schools in which racial/ethnic groups teach differ. Asian faculty are far less likely than other groups to be employed in 2-year colleges. Black faculty are less likely than other groups to be employed in research institutions and are more likely to be employed in comprehensive institutions, liberal arts schools, and 2-year colleges. (See figure 5-20.) Hispanic faculty are less likely than other groups to be employed in research institutions and are more likely to be employed in 2-year colleges.

See appendix table 5-19.

Minority faculty also differ in research activities. Asian science and engineering faculty are far more likely than other groups to be engaged in research and to prefer spending time doing research, especially in the doctorate and comprehensive universities. (See appendix table 5-37.) They are also more likely than others to be engaged in funded research, to be principal or co-principal investigators (see appendix table 5-24), and to have published within the last 2 years-at all ages and within research universities. (See appendix table 5-38.)

Black and Hispanic faculty differ little from white science and engineering faculty in time spent in teaching or research and in preferred time in teaching or research. (See appendix table 5-38.) Black faculty, however, have fewer publications than white scientists and engineers in the previous 2 years-at all ages and in all types of schools. (See appendix table 5-37.) Black faculty are also less likely than other groups to be engaged in funded research or to be a principal investigator or co-principal investigator. (See appendix table 5-24.)

Differences in faculty rank and tenure among racial/ethnic groups exist as well. Although Asians are not underrepresented in science and engineering employment, as is the case with underrepresented minorities, they are less likely to be full professors or to be tenured. Among full-time ranked science and engineering faculty, Asians, blacks, and Hispanics are less likely than whites to be full professors. (See figure 5-21.) Forty-one percent of Asians, 33 percent of blacks, and 45 percent of Hispanics, compared with 49 percent of whites, are full professors. (See appendix table 5-27.) These differences are partly explained by differences in age. Black, Hispanic, and Asian scientists and engineers are younger on average than white and American Indian scientists and engineers. When age differences are accounted for, Asian and Hispanic faculty are as likely or more likely than white faculty to be full professors, but black faculty are still less likely than other faculty to be full professors. Among ranked faculty who received doctorates 13 or more years previously, only 58 percent of black faculty compared to 70 percent of white faculty were full professors. (See appendix table 5-27.)

See appendix table 5-27.

Black, Hispanic, and Asian faculty are also less likely than white faculty to be tenured. (See figure 5-22.) Fifty-four percent of black faculty, 52 percent of Hispanic faculty, and 57 percent of Asian faculty, compared with 64 percent of white faculty, are tenured. Black, Hispanic, and Asian faculty are more likely than white faculty to be on a tenure track. Thirty percent of black faculty, 48 percent of Hispanic faculty, and 27 percent of Asian faculty, compared with 19 percent of white faculty, are on a tenure track. (See appendix table 5-28.) Again, these tenure differences are likely to be related to age differences.

See appendix table 5-28.

Nonacademic Employment

As mentioned previously in this chapter, the majority of both bachelor's and master's scientists and engineers are employed in business or industry. Within business and industry, they are most likely to have computer applications, research and development, and management as their primary work activity. Black, Hispanic, and Asian bachelor's and master's scientists and engineers differ little from white bachelor's and master's scientists and engineers in their primary work activity. For example, 8 percent of both white and black bachelor's scientists and engineers and 9 percent of Hispanic bachelor's scientists and engineers work in applied research. Ten percent of black, 11 percent of Hispanic, and 12 percent of white bachelor's scientists and engineers are in management and administration. (See appendix table 5-39.)

A similar pattern of primary work activity is found among doctoral scientists and engineers. Black and Hispanic doctoral scientists and engineers employed in business or industry have primary work activities similar to white doctoral scientists and engineers. (See figure 5-23.) Asians, on the other hand, are much more likely than other groups to be in research and development.

See appendix table 5-40.

Salaries

Starting Salaries

In science and engineering, the median starting salaries of new bachelor's and master's science and engineering graduates by race/ethnicity are not dramatically different. (See text table 5-4.)

Doctoral Racial/Ethnic Salary Gaps

An analysis of the differences in average salaries among racial/ethnic groups was performed analogous to that done for the gender salary gap among full-time employed science and engineering doctorate-holders. [30] Because of the relatively small number of individuals within some of the racial/ethnic groups, the results are necessarily more tentative than was the case for the gender salary gap.

The salary differences between whites and the racial/ethnic minority groups are not as large as the gender salary gap. (See text table 5-5.) The differences range from $4,100 for Asians to $7,100 for blacks. Although smaller than the $13,300 gender gap, these are not trivial differences and rightly raise the question of the extent to which these differences can be accounted for by other variables in a manner analogous to that done for the gender salary gap.

The background variables, including years since receipt of the doctorate and field of degree, explain substantial parts of the observed black/white and Hispanic/white salary gaps (35 percent and 33 percent, respectively). Adding the remaining work-related and life-choice variables to the analysis explains the remaining racial/ethnic salary gaps for blacks and Hispanics.

The analysis of the Asian/white gap shows a very different pattern than that for blacks and Hispanics. Field of degree has a strong "negative" explanatory effect on the salary gap. This indicates that when Asians and whites are statistically "equalized" on field of degree, the resulting salary gap is larger than the observed gap. This is attributable to the fact that Asians are concentrated in degree fields such as engineering that have relatively high salary levels. Employer characteristics also have a strongly negative explanatory effect. This effect largely results from Asians being relatively more likely to be employed in the private sector (47 percent of Asians are so employed compared with 29 percent of whites). (See appendix table 5-41.) After statistically equalizing Asians and whites on all variables in the analysis, the "unexplained" salary gap between Asians and whites is approximately $900 (23 percent of the observed gap).

The salary gap for American Indians and whites shows an explanatory pattern that is different from the other groups examined. The data do not indicate that American Indians have been increasing their participation in the doctoral labor force over time. Therefore, years since doctorate is not an important factor in explaining the salary gap between American Indians and whites. All of the variables combined explain approximately 57 percent of the $6,500 salary gap. Thus, approximately 43 percent of the observed gap remains unexplained. For American Indians, this constitutes approximately $2,800. The reader is cautioned, however, that the number of American Indians in the sample is quite small and that these estimates must be considered fairly imprecise. [31]

Before leaving the topic of racial/ethnic salary differences, it is interesting to look at whether significant "unexplained" racial/ethnic salary gaps are evident when one looks separately at U.S.-born and non-U.S.-born individuals, since a disproportionately high percentage of minority group members in the doctoral population are born outside the United States and the decomposition of the salary gaps for U.S.-born individuals could be quite different than for those born outside of this country. Examination of the data indicates that for U.S.-born individuals, the variables examined "explain" all or almost all of the observed racial/ethnic salary gaps for all the groups examined except for American Indians. (See text table 5-6.) In fact, U.S.-born blacks and Asians have higher average salaries than would be expected, given the different racial/ethnic group characteristics on the variables examined, when compared with whites.

The relatively high salaries of U.S.-born blacks and Asians may, of course, be the result of imperfections in the model used in this analysis. It is possible, for example, that the obstacles placed in the way of minority entry into the doctoral science and engineering labor force result in those minority members who are successful being more qualified than whites on factors, such as "willingness to work hard," that we were unable to measure. Alternately, the relatively high salaries of U.S.-born blacks and Asians may indicate that employers have a preference for U.S.-born blacks and Asians-perhaps in response to affirmative action programs.

Among the non-U.S.-born, Hispanics have similar salaries to whites with similar characteristics; however, approximately $2,300 of the Asian/white and black/white gaps remain unexplained. [32]

In sum, these data do not indicate that racial/ethnic status has much effect on salary within this very "elite" population of full-time-employed individuals with doctoral science and engineering degrees when one compares groups with similar characteristics on relevant variables. After adjusting for differences in work-related characteristics, the only U.S.-born minority group with an average salary substantially lower than that of U.S.-born whites was American Indians. Because the sample contains few American Indians, however, this result may be attributable to sampling variability. For U.S.-born blacks and Asians, minority group salaries are actually somewhat higher than would be expected on the basis of the characteristics adjusted for in this analysis.


[28] The data reported in this section include both U.S.-born and non-U.S.-born scientists and engineers unless otherwise noted.
[29] The science and engineering field in which blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians earn their degrees has a lot to do with participation in the science and engineering labor force. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are disproportionately likely to earn degrees in the social sciences and to be employed in social science practice, e.g., in social work, clinical psychology, rather than in social sciences per se.
[30] The methodological approach used in analyzing salary gaps is discussed in the section on gender salary gaps and in more detail in the chapter 5 Technical Notes.
[31] A regression analysis incorporating the demographic variables indicated that the difference between American Indians and other racial/ethnic groups could be explained by chance.
[32] Including an interaction effect between race/ethnicity and place of birth indicates the interaction is statistically significant at the 0.05 level. See the chapter 5 Technical Notes for more information on this analysis.


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