New Ph.D.'s are at a 10-year low as cultural and educational obstacles keep blacks from careers in science and engineering

As ambitions go, Nola Campbell's do not seem grandiose. The senior at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., just wants to get a Ph.D. in chemistry and become a scientist. But the odds are against her, for one simple reason: Campbell is black.

The statistics paint a bleak picture of her chances. In 1987 only 222 blacks received Ph.D.s in the sciences and engineering. That number represents 1.8% of all United States doctorates awarded in those areas, although blacks comprise 12% of the country's population. Even more alarming, the number has declined despite years of efforts to offer better educational opportunities to minorities: 10 years ago, blacks received 288 science Ph.D.s. And the decline is unique to blacks. The numbers of new Hispanic and Asian American science doctoral recipients have...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?