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Black S.T.E. M. workers experience race-related slights on the job

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 1/10/2018, 10:55 a.m.
Blacks who work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are more likely..

Blacks who work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are more likely than STEM workers from other racial or ethnic backgrounds to say they have faced discrimination on the job. They also stand out in their views about workplace diversity, according to a new Pew Research Center report. Roughly six-in-10 Black STEM workers (62 percent) say they have experienced any of eight specific forms of racial or ethnic discrimination at work, from earning less than a coworker who performed the same job to experiencing repeated, small slights at work. That compares with 44 percent of Asians, 42 percent of Hispanics and just 13 percent of whites in STEM jobs, according to the survey, which was conducted in the summer of 2017. Black STEM workers (41 percent) are also more likely than Hispanics (26 percent) or whites (6 percent) who work in these fields to say they’ve faced two or more of these forms of racial or ethnic discrimination in their workplace. (Differences between Black and Asian STEM workers are not statistically significant on this particular measure.) One of the most common forms of race-related discrimination reported in STEM fields is being treated as not competent. Among STEM employees, 45 percent of Blacks say they have had this experience because of their race or ethnicity, compared with smaller shares of Hispanics (23 percent), Asians (20 percent) or whites (3 percent). When asked if their race or ethnicity has made it harder, made it easier or made no difference to their success in their career, Blacks employed in STEM are far more likely (40 percent) than Hispanics (19 percent) or whites (5 percent) to say their racial or ethnic background has made it harder to succeed in their job. Black STEM workers also hold less positive views of how Blacks are treated where they work. For example, roughly three-quarters of whites working in STEM fields say Blacks at their workplace are usually treated fairly in recruitment and hiring as well as in opportunities for promotions and advancement, but those respective shares decline to around four-in-10 each among Black STEM workers.