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Black Degree Attainment Grows in Physical Sciences, Engineering Fields

In many physical sciences and engineering fields, the bachelor degree growth rate of black students is witnessing an upward trend, a new report by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) has found.

Compiled by its Statistical Research Center (SRC), the report looked at the enrollment figures in 15 fields of physical sciences, engineering, and degrees received by the students.

The report found that in 2005 – 2015, the number of degrees earned by African Americans in the physical sciences field grew by 36 percent. In four subjects of the physical sciences field, the degrees earned by African Americans grew faster than the overall growth.

Chemistry degrees among the black students saw a modest increase of 31 percent, while physics bachelor’s degrees remained relatively stagnant since 2005.

The number of degrees earned by black students in the engineering field, especially civil engineering and materials engineering, increased by 19 percent during the same period.

At the same time, the report noted a decrease of 14 percent and 8 percent respectively in the number of degrees earned by black students in electrical engineering and industrial engineering fields.

“We’re hopeful that this report could help intervention programs to be more successful to improve representation,” senior survey scientist Laura Merner said. “Clearly, more research is needed to find out why African Americans are underrepresented in these fields, and there is still work that needs to be done,” Merner added.

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