A study conducted by Georgetown University now reveals a new gap Black students in America must face.

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Examining bachelor’s degrees in 137 detailed majors, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce shows despite making up 12 percent of the population, African-Americans make up only eight percent of high-paying majors and 21 percent of low-paying majors.

According to Anthony Carnevale, an author of the report and the director of the center, even though an African-American student may select a high-paying major, the decision is often followed by the selection of a low-paying job, noting social and family factors tend to lead 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.

Numbers of the study showed African American undergraduate students nationwide are better represented in social work with 19 percent of students in the major, public administration (17 percent), and sociology (14 percent). However in fields like computer science and engineering, African American students make up only eight and five percent of students, respectively.

“The low-paying majors that African-Americans are concentrated in are of high social value but low economic value,” said Carnevale.

PBS.org reports this decision to enter a service-oriented field often stems from Blacks having strong community-based values. African-Americans represent just 12 percent of the U.S. population but are 20 percent of all community organizers.

The report also states most Blacks graduate from two-year colleges or open-admission four-year universities, leading to a limited number of majors and lack of resources.

Carnevale and other researchers are suggesting the implementation of STEM programs geared toward Black students as well as earlier exposure to these career fields as a child develops in their primary and secondary educations.