The Roots of Rising STEM Disparities

For decades, the number of Black students pursuing STEM degrees in the US was on the rise and expected to stay that way—but progress is reversing.
In the 1970s and 80s, Black enrollment in engineering almost tripled and that growth continued to climb through the 1990s.
But gains in STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students has been falling since the early 2000s, despite growing federal spending on diversity initiatives in those fields.
Behind the Decline: One factor is the widespread retreat of affirmative action programs, coupled with the dire state of K-12 education.
“Science and math, they were kind of the first casualties,” says public interest lawyer Mark Rosenbaum.

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