Friday, January 09, 2009

Statistics on the Profession: A First Look at Race

I've been asked several times to extend the figures I collected on women in philosophy to include race. I've been reluctant to do so. The reason is purely practical. I use government figures and I analyze them at the most superficial level. To get the statistics, I just go to the table and divide a couple of numbers. But the figures on race are collected in a different way and so I think that calculating them does not provide an accurate picture of our discipline.

The figures on sex (from the Digest of Education Statistics) can be broken down to include only degrees in philosophy. However, the figures on race bundle philosophy with religious studies. Are there more or fewer racial minorities in philosophy than in religious studies? Are the profiles of the two fields the same? We can't assume they are. For example, at the undergraduate level, religious studies is evenly split between men and women, but philosophy graduates about twice as many men as women.

Here are the 2006 figures for bachelor's degrees in philosophy AND religious studies, bundled together:
White: 81.8%
Black: 5.7%
Hispanic: 5.4%
Asian and Pacific Islander: 5.2%
Native American: 0.5%
Non-resident alien: 1.3%

2006 figures for doctoral degrees in philosophy & religious studies, bundled together:
White: 70.9%
Black: 7.1%
Hispanic: 3.6%
Asian and Pacific Islander: 4.2%
Native American: 0.5%
Non-resident alien: 13.7%

These figures are additionally broken down by sex, and I thought it would be interesting to see whether the percentage of minorities is the same for men and women. But the numbers of individuals are so low that it's difficult to make comparisons.
% of male PhD's who are white: 70.7%
% of female PhD's who are white: 71.5%
% of male PhD's who are black: 6% (25 out of 420)
% of female PhD's who are black: 10% (16 out of 158)

But keep in mind: out of the 158 women in that last statistic, only 95 received philosophy degrees. I don't know of any way, using this published set of figures, to tease out the data on race for philosophy alone.

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