Study Finds Leaks in the Pipeline for Black Sociology Faculty

A new report from the American Sociological Association offers statistics to explain the low percentage of black sociologists on the faculties of colleges and universities across the United States. According to ASA data, while blacks are proportionately represented among bachelor’s and master’s degree students in sociology, the big drop-off occurs at the doctoral level. According to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in 2005 African Americans earned 38 Ph.D.s in sociology. Blacks earned 7 percent of all sociology doctorates that year. The ASA data shows that 85 percent of blacks who earn a master’s degree in sociology do not go on to pursue a doctorate. For whites, nearly half of all sociology master’s degree recipients continue on to doctoral programs.

A second major drop-off among blacks in the pipeline for sociology faculty comes at the tenure review process. There are far more blacks in lower ranks such as instructor and assistant professor than is the case at the associate or full professor level.

The study concludes that financial considerations are an important factor for a large number of blacks who decide not to pursue doctoral studies. The authors also cite a lack of suitable mentors for black sociologists, a disproportionate number of campus committee assignments for black junior faculty, and the difficulty black sociologists have in getting published in established journals as reasons for low tenure rates.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from the ASA Web site here.