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Doctoral recipients in the US, by ethnicity over time

A while ago I published this visualization, showing the baccalaureate institutions of doctoral degree recipients over about 60 years.  It's a post I do every few years, and it always seems to be helpful for high school and independent counselors who work with students and families, and just interesting for the rest of us. 

Shortly after posting, I got an email from colleague Crys Latham at Washington Latin who wanted to know if you could look at that data by ethnicity.  The answer, unfortunately, is no: You can choose to download the data by undergraduate institution or ethnicity of the recipients, but not both.  (Perhaps NSF will give more granular data to bona fide academic researchers, so maybe someone can find out.) However, that got me thinking a bit, so I went back and looked at the tables again.

I downloaded ethnicity of doctoral recipients since 1983, in five year increments, and created the visualization below.  It's pretty simple, and if someone with better skills wants to make this visualization better, feel free; I left the Tableau workbook open for downloading.

First decide if you want to include all recipients or just those with known ethnicity (far left filter).  Then you can select any combination of ethnicity and academic area to see the trends over time (Asian recipients in social sciences, for instance).  But if you wish to choose only one of those, you can use the Color By control to color the bars by the other.  

For instance, choose "Black or African-American" on the race/ethnicity control, then color by "Academic Area."  You'll see that in 2018, about 20% of African-American recipients earned degrees in each of three areas: Education, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences.  Compare that to 1983, when half of the 1,009 African-American recipients earned doctorates in education.

As much as the growth is good news, the numbers can still be concerning: In 2018 fewer than 100 Hispanic doctoral recipients earned degrees in math and computer science.  Assuming many of them will not go to work at institutions of higher education, it shows how hard it can be for a university to attract and maintain a diverse faculty in some disciplines.  And of course, instead of being satisfied with the reality we see, it can cause us to ask why that is, and what we do about it.

As always, let me know what you see here that interests you.


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