November 20, 2013

Statistician statistics: gender, race, ethnicity

New data from the American Community Survey on race, ethnicity, and gender balance in science/technology employment. 

Almost exactly 50% of statisticians are women, quite different from the situation in a lot of mathematical and computational sciences



but under-representation of minorities is just as bad in stats as everywhere else.



Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    Wesley Burr

    At first glance it looks more like it might be an under-representation of Black & Hispanic minorities, and a very large over-representation of Asians, given the US breakdown of 63.0/16.9/13.1/5.1/1.9% (White / Hispanic / Black / Asian / Other) [from the 2012 census QuickFacts].

    Of course, when you control for education it’s probably not so unusual. The US Census published this:
    which shows that for 25+ US residents, the attainment percentages are 29.3 / 13 / 17.7 / 50.2%. So even though Asians are only 5.1% of the population (4.8% of those 25+), they comprise 8.5% of the bachelors+ population. Meanwhile Hispanics, despite being ~17% of the overall population are only 6% of the bachelors+ population. Similarly, Blacks are 7.7% of the bachelors+ population.

    So the numbers that show there under Statisticians, when compared to the attainment percentages for bachelors or higher, are basically correct, except that Asians are 10% too high, and Whites 10% too low.

    After all, it’s hard to be a statistician when you don’t even have a bachelors degree!

    3 years ago Reply

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      Yes, a lot of the racial/ethnic under-representation happens before university entry and most of the gender under-representation in maths and comp sci happens after university entry.

      It’s not clear to me that having the problem happen earlier makes it less serious, though.

      3 years ago Reply

      • avatar
        Duncan Hedderley

        >It’s not clear to me that having the problem
        >happen earlier makes it less serious, though.

        It might change what one does about it tho’

        3 years ago Reply

  • avatar
    Bill Kaye-Blake

    It looks like Statisticians have fewer White non-Hispanic than Total employed, so it looks like they are doing _better_ on representation of minorities.

    Economics is relatively male, but relatively diverse — that ties with what I’ve seen at conferences.

    3 years ago Reply

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      The pattern for Stats, as with most similar subjects is over-representation of Asians, slight under-representation of White non-Hispanic, and very, very few Hispanic or Black.

      We aren’t doing better on Hispanic or Black representation.

      3 years ago Reply

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