Workforce Readiness

Report Identifies STEM Career Exposure Gap for Black Students

Technology provider YouScience and nonprofit organization Black Girls Do STEM have reported notable gaps between Black students' high aptitude for STEM careers and low interest in pursuing them. Their 2024 report, "From Classroom to Career," offers recommendations for closing these gaps.

The report analyzed data from 328,000 United States Black middle and high school students assessed by YouScience's computerized aptitude and career-fit tool between 2019 and 2023. The report noted an especially significant gap for female Black students between aptitude for and interest in STEM careers.

Key areas analyzed for Black females showed significantly more aptitude than interest, especially in advanced manufacturing (88%), computers and technology (73%), and architecture and construction (72%).

The report's authors surmise these gaps are due to lack of Black professional representation in these fields, noting that in 2021, only 9% of the STEM workforce was Black.

The report concludes with three major recommendations for helping to close the gaps:

  • Help everyone to look beyond stereotypes: Allow Black girls to be "seen, heard, and valued enough to be allowed space to learn, fail, and grow where culture, confidence, and community are created…," said Cynthia Chappel, Black Girls Do STEM founder. This helps them to "uncover who they really are, discover what skills are inherently in them, and who and what they want to be";
  • Provide and steer students toward "intentional pathways": Offer mentoring programs, SAT/ACT preparation and tutoring, university tours, and internships/externships; and
  • Help students progress "from classroom to career": Support and encourage them to take part in extracurricular activities such as programs and internships starting in middle school.

The full report can be downloaded on this page.

YouScience and Black Girls Do STEM are also collaborating to solve the career exposure gap for Black students. YouScience will donate 160 licenses for its Aptitude and Career Discovery tool to Black Girls Do STEM for the 2024-25 school year to help Black students explore careers based on their aptitudes.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.