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Christine Nattrass | USLHC | USA

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Some tough problems to solve

Given that today is Martin Luther King Day it seems like a good time to reflect on the under-representation of African Americans in physics.  This is a chart showing the number of African Americans who earned PhDs in physics in the US:

African Americans earn approximately 2% of PhDs in physics earned by US citizens in the US.  You can find more statistics on African Americans in physics here.  African Americans are about 12% of the US population.  Clearly something is wrong here.

I am not the right person to talk about what it is like to be a black physicist.  I can’t tell you what it feels like because I’m white.  Even though I’m not the ideal person to talk about this, someone has to say something because the problem is huge.  It is too big to ignore.  There are only 56 African American women with PhDs in physics.  I only know two black physicists in heavy ion physics, neither of them are originally from the US, and one is still a graduate student.  We have to do something because it threatens the viability of scientific research.  We are not recruiting the best and the brightest to the field.

This is a really complicated problem and I don’t have a solution.  Changing this – inspiring young black girls and boys to pursue careers in science and technology – will not be easy.  But we have to try.


2 Responses to “Some tough problems to solve”

  1. Hi…


    Actually This Problem Is Not Only Exist In US But Also Exist In Many Country All Around The World, Physic Is An Interesting Field But To See That Field In Attractive View Is Hard Like We Are Trying To Catch A Beautiful Butterfly At Night. To See That Beautiful Butterfly We Need Lamp To Lightening It, The Issue Is Not What Type Of Skin They Have But What They Imagine About Physic Just Like When You Said The Word “GLUON” ^_^ The Person Who Can See Physic Clearly Is A Person Who Have Dreams For A Better Future As An Achievement Of A Life Time. The Only Thing We Can Do To Get A Future Physicist Is By Attractive Description Of Physic To Open Their Mind Widely That This Life Is Not Only About Surviving But Also For Better Future Of Human Kind…

  2. tyler2 says:

    Fujimia Yoneda – perhaps good points, however your writing style is an example of how NOT to provide an “Attractive Description”. My head still hurts from reading your CamelCode.

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