African American people and Hispanic people continue to be underrepresented among physics bachelor’s degree recipients. The class of 2017 included 4% African American people and 8% Hispanic people. For comparison, the college-age population in 2017 was composed of 14% African American people and 22% Hispanic people.

The proportion of physics bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanic people has been increasing steadily since 2000. However, the proportion of physics bachelor’s degrees earned by African American people has been declining since 1994. In recent years, it might be leveling off at 3 to 4%. AIP convened a national task force to study reasons for the persistent underrepresentation of African American people in physics. Their report The Time Is Now: Systemic Changes to Increase African Americans with Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics and Astronomy was published in early 2020. It is available at

Next month we will look at enrollments in introductory physics...

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