Saturday Night Live may have finally boarded the diversity train with the hiring of one African-American comedian and two black writers, but there are other fields that have shockingly low African-American female participation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for African-American female workers stood at 10.4 percent as of December, as compared to the national total of 11.5 percent. (Black men at 11.9 percent.)
Female African-Americans “tend to be overrepresented in the public sector, which has seen cuts,” as Katherine Gallagher Robbins, a senior policy analyst with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), a Washington D.C.-based advocacy non-profit organization, explained to AOL Jobs.
There are other sectors that have an over-representation of female African-Americans. While they make up six percent of the national population, according to the U.S. Census, African-American women comprise 21.5 percent of health care support operations, or more than three times their overall proportion, found the American Community Survey produced by the U.S. Census. African-American women occupy a larger share than their overall population in community and social service occupations (12 percent) as well as office and administrative support occupations (9 percent).
These fields, unfortunately, are “not well-paid jobs with difficult scheduling,” as opposed to fields dominated by white men. Female African-Americans comprise less than one percent of the workforce in four job categories maintained by the American Community Survey. These are often known to offer high-paying gigs as well.
Among them are: Construction and extraction occupations (average annual income: $44,960); installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (average annual income: $43,870); farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (average annual income: $24,230); architecture and engineering occupations (average annual income: $79,000).
The gender and race gap is tech arena starts as early as high school. To reverse this, experts say the focus needs to be on getting minority children into tech. “Rather than focus on getting women and minorities hired at tech startups or encouraging them to major in computer science in college, there should be a push to turn them on to the discipline when they’re still teenagers—or even younger,” reports The Atlantic.
Only a tiny percentage of the high-schoolers taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam are women. Black and Latino students are at an even lower percentage of the test-takers, according to data from the College Board compiled by Georgia Tech’s Barbara Ericson.
In 2013, 18 percent of the students who took the exam were women. Of those, eight percent were Hispanic, and only four percent were African-American. This is terribly low when you consider that Latinos make up 22 percent of the school-age population in the U.S.; African-Americans make up 14 percent.
There are camps geared toward increasing the number of girls in these areas. Even the Girl Scouts are working to spread the word about computer science. “Girls have been socialized into believing they need to be helpers,” Ericson said. Her message to girls is “Hey, you can create apps to use in emergencies to help people. You can do all sorts of cool things. Computer science has wonderful potential to help people.”