Chapter 5:

Employment



Minority Scientists and Engineers[9] 


Representation in Science and Engineering 

With the exception of Asians, minorities are a small proportion of scientists and engineers in the United States. Asians were 10 percent of scientists and engineers in the United States in 1995, although they were 3 percent of the U.S. population. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians as a group were 23 percent of the U.S. population and 6 percent of the total science and engineering labor force in 1995.[10]  Blacks and Hispanics were each about 3 percent, and American Indians were less than half of 1 percent of scientists and engineers. (See figure 5-5.)

Age Distribution 

The age distributions of minorities, including Asians, differ from that of white scientists and engineers. As noted earlier, these differences influence differences in employment characteristics. About 13 percent of employed white scientists and engineers are younger than age 30, compared with between 16 and 20 percent of Asian, black, and Hispanic scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-2.)

Field of Science and Engineering 

Black, Asian, and American Indian scientists and engineers are concentrated in different fields than white and Hispanic scientists and engineers. (See figures 5-6, 5-7, 5-8, 5-9 and 5-10.) Asians are less represented in social sciences than they are in other fields. They are 4 percent of social scientists but 10 percent of engineers and computer scientists. A higher proportion of black scientists and engineers are in social sciences and in computer and mathematical sciences than they are in other fields. They are 5 percent of social scientists, 4 percent of computer and mathematical scientists, and roughly 3 percent of physical scientists, life scientists, and engineers. Although the numbers are small, American Indians appear to be concentrated in the social sciences. They are 0.5 percent of social scientists and 0.3 percent or less of other fields. Hispanics are more proportionally represented among fields. They are roughly 2.5 to 3 percent of scientists and engineers in each field.

Distributions of field for racial/ethnic groups differ also by nativity. Among doctoral scientists and engineers, U.S.-born Asians are more similar to other racial/ethnic groups in terms of field than are non-U.S.-born Asians. (See text table 5-1.) Both U.S.-born and non-U.S.-born Asians are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to be in social sciences and more likely to be in engineering; however, the differences are less among U.S.-born scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-19.)

Educational Background 

The educational attainment of scientists and engineers differs among racial/ethnic groups. Black scientists and engineers have, on average, a lower level of educational attainment than scientists and engineers of other racial/ethnic groups. Black scientists and engineers are more likely than white, Hispanic, or Asian scientists and engineers to have a bachelorís as the terminal degree: 66 percent of black scientists and engineers in the U.S. labor force have a bachelorís as the highest degree compared to 58 percent of all scientists and engineers in 1995. (See appendix table 5-18.)

Labor Force Participation, Employment, and Unemployment 

Labor force participation rates vary by race/ethnicity. Minority scientists and engineers were more likely than whites to be in the labor force (i.e., employed or looking for employment). Between 91 and 94 percent of black, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian scientists and engineers were in the labor force in 1995, compared to 87 percent of white scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-20.) Age differences are part of the explanation. White scientists and engineers are older, on average, than scientists and engineers of other racial/ethnic groups: 22 percent of white scientists and engineers were age 50 or older in 1995, compared with between 15 and 18 percent of Asians, blacks, and Hispanics. (See appendix table 5-2.) Among those in similar age groups, the labor force participation rates of white and minority scientists and engineers are similar. (See appendix table 5-3.)

Although minorities, for the most part, are less likely to be out of the labor force, among those who are in the labor force, minorities are more likely to be unemployed. In 1995, the unemployment rate of white scientists and engineers was significantly lower than that of other racial/ethnic groups. (See appendix table 5-20.) The unemployment rate for whites was 2.0 percent, compared with 2.8 percent for Hispanics, 2.4 percent for blacks, and 3.4 percent for Asians. The differences in unemployment rates were evident within fields of science and engineering as well as for science and engineering as a whole. For example, the unemployment rate for white engineers was 2.5 percent; for black and Asian engineers, it was 4.0 percent.

Sector of Employment 

Racial/ethnic groups differ in employment sector, partly because of differences in field of employment. Among employed scientists and engineers in 1995, 51 percent of black, 57 percent of Hispanic, and 54 percent of American Indian, compared with 62 percent of white and 64 percent of Asian scientists and engineers were employed in for-profit business or industry. (See appendix table 5-7.) Blacks 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.

Black, Hispanic, and American Indian scientists and engineers are also more likely than other groups to be employed in government (Federal, state, or local): 22 percent of black, 17 percent of Hispanic, and 19 percent of American Indian scientists and engineers were employed in government in 1995, compared with 14 percent of white and 12 percent of Asian scientists and engineers.

Academic Employment 

Racial/ethnic groups differ in academic employment characteristics such as rank and tenure. Minorities represented 15 percent of full-time ranked doctoral science and engineering faculty in 1995: blacks constituted 2.4 percent, Asians 9.2 percent, American Indians 0.5 percent, and Hispanics 2.7 percent. Although Asians are not underrepresented in science and engineering employment, like underrepresented minorities, they are less likely to be full professors. (See figure 5-11.) Among full-time ranked science and engineering faculty, 35 percent of Asians, 25 percent of blacks, and 31 percent of Hispanics, compared with 47 percent of whites, are full professors. These differences are largely 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, most differences in rank and tenure are reduced. Among ranked faculty between the ages of 45 and 54, 50 percent of Hispanic faculty, 55 percent of Asian faculty and 59 percent of white faculty were full professors. (See appendix table 5-9.) Among black faculty in that age group, however, 25 percent were full professors.

Black, Hispanic, and Asian faculty are also less likely than white faculty to be tenured. Forty-seven percent of black faculty, 41 percent of Hispanic faculty, and 35 percent of Asian faculty compared to 57 percent of white faculty are tenured. (See appendix table 5-10.) Some, but not all, of these tenure differences are related to age differences. Among younger faculty (age 35 to 44), 29 percent of Hispanic, 21 percent of black, 25 percent of Asian, and 37 percent of white faculty are tenured. Black faculty had fewer publications than faculty in other racial/ethnic groups since 1990. (See appendix table 5-11.) Among doctoral scientists and engineers who received their doctorates in 1990 or earlier and who work in 4-year colleges or universities, 28 percent of black faculty had no publications since 1990 compared with 15 percent of Hispanic, 18 percent of white, and 12 percent of Asian faculty.

Black and American Indian faculty are also less likely than other groups to have received Federal grants or contracts. (See figure 5-12.) Thirty-five percent of black and 25 percent of American Indian doctoral scientists and engineers employed in colleges or universities are supported by Federal contracts or grants compared to 44 percent of white and 49 percent of Hispanic and Asian doctoral scientists and engineers employed full time in colleges or universities. (See appendix table 5-12.)

Nonacademic Employment 

Racial/ethnic groups differ in some respects in their primary work activity. Black and Asian scientists and engineers are more likely than other groups to be engaged primarily in computer applications–34 percent of black and 36 percent of Asians compared with 27 percent of Hispanic and 28 percent of white scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-13.) Asians are less likely than other groups to be in management or administration (14 percent of Asians compared with roughly 22 percent of Hispanic, white, and black scientists and engineers). Age differences do not explain this difference in managerial activity. Among 35 to 44 year olds, Asians remain less likely to be in management–13 percent of Asians and between 20 and 23 percent of other groups are in management or administration. Among supervisory scientists and engineers, Asians also have fewer subordinates. The average number of direct and indirect subordinates is 8 for Asians, 9 for American Indians, and roughly 11 for Hispanic, white, and black scientists and engineers. (See appendix table 5-14.)

White and Hispanic scientists and engineers work for similarly sized employers. Black and American Indian scientists and engineers are more likely to work for very large firms (55 percent and 54 percent, respectively) than are white scientists and engineers (45 percent). (See appendix table 5-15.)

Black scientists and engineers are less likely to have patents than other racial/ethnic groups. In business and industry among natural scientists and engineers who received degrees in 1990 or earlier, 17 percent of blacks, compared with 50 percent of Hispanics, 38 percent of whites, and 36 percent of Asians, were named as an inventor on a patent since 1990. (See appendix table 5-16.)

Salaries 

Salaries for scientists and engineers differ little among racial/ethnic groups. Among all scientists and engineers, the median salaries by racial/ethnic group are $50,500 for whites, $50,000 for Asians, $45,000 for blacks, $47,000 for Hispanics, and $48,000 for American Indians, with the biggest differences being between whites and blacks. Within fields and age categories, median salaries of scientists and engineers by race/ethnicity are not dramatically different and do not follow a consistent pattern. (See appendix table 5-21.) For example, the median salary of engineers with bachelorís degrees who are between the ages of 20 and 29 ranges from $36,000 for American Indians to $40,000 for blacks. Among those between the ages of 40 and 49, the median salary ranges from $53,000 for Asians and Hispanics to $58,000 for whites.

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Footnotes

[9] The data reported in this section include all scientists and engineers, regardless of citizenship or country of origin, unless otherwise noted.

[10] The science and engineering field in which blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians earn their degrees influences participation in the science and engineering labor force. Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are disproportionately likely to earn degrees in the social sciences (defined by NSF as degrees in science and engineering) and to be employed in social services occupations, e.g., social worker, clinical psychologist, that are defined by NSF as non–science-and-engineering occupations. See appendix A for NSFís classification of science and engineering fields.


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