So just how many Black and STEM PhDs are there in the US? And how can we put this number into perspective. Well, I wanted to know so being a scientist, I went to the data. All links will open up to where I got the data in a different window and the stats I am referring to are for people 18 and older.
Here we go…
There has been a 12% increase in Black PhDs from 2011 to 2013 (13% overall)
As of 2013, 0.67% of black people (the national number is 1.47%) have a PhD. This amounts to about 195000 people, or 1 out of every 149 black people. Gender wise, the number is split down the middle with men and women with both listed at 97000 (I know it doesn’t quite add up, they rounded somewhere they shouldn’t have).
About half of the national population PhDs are in the STEM field. So if we make the assumption that this ratio holds true in the black population, that would mean there are about 118000 Black and Stem PhDs.
But the ratio does NOT hold up. The number is really closer to 72000.
To put in perspective, we could all go to see a football game in 37 different football stadiums and all have a seat in the stands.
Here are some more interesting tidbits.
Life sciences, all 44300 people could all catch a game at 9 professional baseball stadiums. This number is actually on par with the US population.
Physical science (34500), Engineering (31800), OR Biomedical (32400) PhDs could catch a Syracuse Orange basketball game. But these numbers are IF the national ratio held true. Sadly, it doesn’t. It looks more like this…
Physical science – 14200 (>50% lower that it should be with in regards to national parity), any of the top 80 basketball arenas.
Engineering – 13300 (>50% lower) even more of basketball arenas.
Biomedical science (which is a sub category in Life science) – 25200 any Major league baseball stadium
Now within the biomedical science population, the 2600 biochemists could “get to Carnegie Hall” with room to spare, but we just need to practice first (You’ll get that joke later, ask a musician or click here).
All the other chemists, a bit over 6000, would have to squeeze into Radio City Music Hall.
How did I find all this out? Well I took the number of current PhDs according to the 2013 census and extrapolated 2011 data on PhDa in given fields to arrive at the current amount. So the numbers are likely within 10% of the real number.
Why does it matter?
Diversity leads to innovation. Innovation leads to better solutions for problems that we cannot solve alone. That problem is cancer, that problem is a new bacterial infection, that problem is autoimmune disease, that problem is heart disease, that problem is solvable!!!
Diverse problem sets require diverse sets minds to solve them. So while we are getting stronger in numbers, there is work to be done to get to the same parity as the national numbers. Let’s rally the troops to inspire the next generation of scientists, and hopefully in a few years, there will be no single stadium that can hold us. #BLACKandSTEM