The present economic environment has been extremely hard for African Americans. With unemployment at its highest rate in decades, there are some job opportunities but it is unlikely that African Americans will be able to take full advantage of them because they are in science, technology and math-intense fields.
Although Africans invented math and were the founders of science, in today’s world, African Americans barely function, on average, at a sixth grade math level and have little interest in science. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African Americans although roughly 13 percent of the population, account for just 11 percent of all students that matriculate beyond high school. According to 2009 data, African Americans obtained 7 percent of all the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bachelor’s degrees, 4 percent of master’s degrees, and 2 percent of Ph.D.s.
For the same year, African Americans obtained 1 percent of degrees in science technology and 4 percent of degrees in math and statistics. In addition, the percentage of African Americans earning STEM degrees has continued to decrease consistently over the past several decades. This is the opposite of trends observed in other countries. For example, 16 percent of all U.S. undergraduates major in natural science or engineering, compared with 25 percent in Europe, 38 percent in South Korea and 47 percent in China, according to findings released in a 2010 study conducted by the National Science Board.
The achievement gap is only growing, in particular with respect to African American male youth. Just 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys. This according to a study released last year based on data from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools. Nationally, 58 percent of black male eighth graders scored below basic in math. The report also noted that African American male students on average score 120 points lower on the math section of the SAT than white males.