A new study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce shows that African-Americans are overrepresented in lower-paying college majors and underrepresented in higher-paying majors.
The study, which examined bachelor’s degrees in 137 detailed majors, found that African-Americans only made up 8% of the higher-paying majors but 17% of the lower-paying majors, despite being 12% of the population.
Additionally, the choice of major is still not enough to guarantee higher wages, as Anthony Carnevale, an author of the report and the director of the center, noted. Factors such as social and family factors tend to channel African-Americans into lower-paying jobs even within higher-paying majors.
“If you’re an African-American who majors in math, you’re more likely to become a school teacher. If you’re a white male who majors in math, you’re more likely to go on to grad school in business, or to seek out higher education opportunities,” he said.
In order to combat this gap, Carnevale suggested that schools implement better counseling so that students are aware of and presented with more opportunities.
“We need counseling that tracks students’ interests and values and personality, and guides them towards what they want to do and tells them how to get there,” he said. “And then when they get there, whether or not they can pay back their student loans.”