Key points:

Historically, there has been limited Black representation in STEM-related fields

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Black students across the nation possess the aptitudes for in-demand STEM careers, but lack interest in pursuing them, indicating that a significant career exposure gap exists, likely due to underrepresentation in STEM careers. 

The information comes from the 2024 Black Students and STEM Report from YouScience, a technology provider dedicated to solving the skills gap crisis for students and employers, and Black Girls Do STEM, a nonprofit organization empowering Black girls to achieve equitable STEM representation.

The career exposure gap is measured by the difference between a student’s aptitudes and interests, and identifies which careers a student hasn’t been exposed to and which ones might be a good fit. Most notably, the 2024 Black Students and STEM Report found:

A 75 percent exposure gap in Advanced Manufacturing

A 57 percent exposure gap in Health Science

A 56 percent exposure gap in Finance

A 53 percent exposure gap in Architecture & Construction

A 51 percent exposure gap in Computers & Technology

The 2024 Black Students and STEM Report combines data from YouScience and Black Girls Do STEM to highlight Black student career exposure gaps for in-demand STEM careers and the importance of programs that address the gaps. The report analyzed anonymized data from 328,000 Black U.S. middle and high school students who took YouScience’s Aptitude and Career Discovery tool from 2019 to 2023. This scientifically-backed tool applies computerized performance measures of aptitudes, interests, and AI-powered algorithms to activities that help identify best-fit career matches of all students, regardless of race or gender.

Historically, there has been limited Black representation in STEM-related fields. As of 2021, 9 percent of the STEM workforce was Black, which was an increase from 7 percent in 2011. While this growth is positive, new solutions are needed to help Black students explore STEM-related education and careers earlier.

“As a Black woman in STEM, I have seen first-hand the lack of representation for women, especially Black women, in these in-demand career fields.  However, I have long felt that the solution to this lies within redefining education for Black students through access to identity affirming informal learning environments; so they understand the full scope of their aptitudes, and also the full scope of what careers are possible.” said Cynthia Chapple, Founder and CEO of Black Girls Do STEM. “Working with YouScience has confirmed that notion by truly showcasing the possibilities for our students based on their unique, individual aptitudes.”

While both Black male and female students have aptitude for STEM careers, the report found that significant exposure gaps exist for female students in particular:

88 percent more Black female students have an aptitude for careers in Advanced Manufacturing than interest

73 percent more Black female students have more aptitude for careers in Computers & Technology than interest

72 percent more Black female students have an aptitude for careers in Architecture & Construction than interest

“For decades, Black students have encountered inequities that have impacted their pathways in education and then career. It’s imperative to recognize that Black students possess the aptitude for all STEM careers, but the glaring exposure gap remains a formidable challenge due to resource deficiencies and lack of representation. By bridging the exposure gaps and doing so earlier in education, society can help Black students understand all of the opportunities available to them and connect them with education and career pathways and programs that can foster even more skills and understanding,” said Edson Barton, Founder and CEO of YouScience. “One of the most notable programs helping to bridge the gap for students is Black Girls Do STEM. This organization and Cynthia Chapple are working diligently to provide female students with the opportunity to learn, create and build confidence in their abilities to pursue STEM careers.”

YouScience and Black Girls Do STEM are collaborating to solve the career exposure gap for Black students. The collaboration will begin with the donation of 160 YouScience Aptitude and Career Discovery tool licenses to Black Girls Do STEM to cover the 2024-25 academic year. This will enable Black Girls Do STEM to assist their students in personalized educational and career exploration based on each student’s aptitudes.

Material from a press release was used in this report.