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Blacks in Science and Engineering: Past and Present

BLACKS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: PAST AND PRESENT It is a truism to say that today's world is dominated by science and technology. Business and industry, marketing and sales, medicine, communications, education, leisure—almost every aspect of our culture is influenced by the work of contemporary scientists and engineers. As important as this direct influence is, many people may overlook the fact that educational background and work experience in these professions also serve as springboards for prestigious positions in management, whether in business, government, industry, or educational institutions. Careers in science and engineering, therefore, assume a role of major importance for members of minority groups who aspire to such positions. This paper will examine the access of blacks to careers in science and engineering, by focusing on their access to the requisite professional preparation. In 1960, less than 1% of all engineers, about 2% of all chemists, and less than 1% of all other scientists in the United States were blacks (1). In absolute numbers, they totaled fewer than 5,000 persons. By 1974, although the absolute numbers had increased to 12,000 black scientists and engineers, this still constituted less than 1% of the total workforce in these fields in the United States (2). Thirty years later, in 2002, blacks were 4% of scientists, 7.5% of mathematicians and computer scientists and less than 5% of engineers (3). While there is an increase, blacks are still underrepresented in science and engineering. What accounts for this? In the 19th century, science and technology were fields in which the “self-made man”, the entrepreneur, the ambitious and enthusiastic amateur, had a good chance of succeeding, but that is no longer the case. The increasing professionalization and specialization of the 21st-century world demanded an extensive and formal professional preparation at the college level and be...

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Blacks in Science and Engineering: Past and Present. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:10, September 02, 2014, from