Minorities in Psychology-Related Careers

Minorities in Psychology Careers

In writing about minorities and careers in Psychology, there are two interesting points to make. First, surprisingly the Internet does not have a lot of sites devoted to this issue. Second, the existing data on minorities and Psychology careers does not reveal clear increasing trends for minority inclusion in Psychology-related careers.

Understanding the issue of minories and careers in Psychology requires a quick look at some census data. The 2000 US census found the following demographics: 75% White, 12% African American, and 12.5% Hispanic. The data for the 2010 US census were: 72% White, 13% African Americans, and 16% Hispanic. At the undergraduate level, it is interesting to see the National Science Foundation data for the percentage of undergraduate Psychology degrees awarded in the US for these three groups:

                                         2000          2011

Whites                               71%           62%

African Americans            10%            12%

Hispanics                          18%            12%

With regard to PhDs in Psychology, the data gets more interesting. The percentage of students earning a PhD in Psychology does not show significant increase across a 14-year period (note that 2014 data was avilable) for African Americans and Hispanics. Moreover, it is evident that African Americans and Hispanics who earn a Psychology undergraduate degree in Psychology do not continue on in graduate school to earn a PhD in Psychology.

                                         2000           2014

Whites                                72%           62%

African Americans               5%              5%

Hispanics                             5%              6%

Could it be that the overall percentages above might not show increasing trends for minorities in various Psycholoy sub-fields? The answer is mixed. When looking at some of the larger sub-areas of Psychology the data below shows more decreases than increases for African-Americans over a 14-year period. However, for Hispanics there are some increasing trends over this same time period.

                                                       Whites           African Americans          Hispanics

Clinical                      2000               75%                          5%                          6%

                                 2014                60%                          4%                          8%

Cognitive                  2000                  7%                          0%                          3%   

                                 2014                 65%                        1%                           5%

Developmental         2000                 75%                        6%                          13%

                                 2014                 63%                        2%                           9%

Social                       2000                 75%                        5%                           1%     

                                 2014                 66%                        3%                           8%

I/O                            2000                 73%                        5%                           7%

                                 2014                 55%                        7%                           7%

Please note, however, that the complete list of Psychology sub-fields showed at least one African-American or Hispanic PhD recipient in 2014, wheras this was not true in 2000.

We wanted to look a bit more at minorities in careers. We did not do an exhaustive examination, but we looked at other Psychology-related career areas to examine minority trends. For Physical Therapy, there were no increases:

                    Whites                        African Americans                     Hispanics

2004-5           79%                                     5%                                      5%

2014-15         81%                                     3%                                      5%

Likewise, for first-year medical school enrollment the data was very stable:

                    Whites                      African Americans                     Hispanics        

2003              68%                                    7%                                       7%     

2010              65%                                    7%                                       8%

However, in the area of law there were increases for minorities, as seen in first-year law school enrollment provided by the American Bar Association:

                  Non-Minority             Minority

1990-91         86%                         14%

2000-01         79%                         21%

2013-14         73%                         27%

Why have there not been more increases for minorities across all Psychology-related careers. Three possibilities include (1) a lack of role models for minorities; (2) minorities may choose careers that are relatively more lucrative than going to graduate school in Psychology (e.g., law or business), and (3) members of minority groups continue to have disadvantages to overcome.

woman looking at diversity in faces

Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.

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