Disparities in Psychology: An Analysis of Demographics by Race and Ethnicity at Multiple Stages of Professional Development

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2018-08

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Abstract

Surveys of racial and ethnic representation indicate under-representation of minorities in psychology. However, published surveys are either outdated or use data from professional organizations that suffer from methodological problems that limit confidence in the conclusions. Nevertheless, professional organizations use these limited surveys to drive interventions and policies to increase diversity in psychology. This study examines the percentage of select racial and ethnic groups in psychology at undergraduate and graduate levels of education, and employment using federally collected data between 2001 and 2016. Data were extracted from the National Council of Education Statistics, the Current Population Survey collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the American Community Survey, collected by the United States Census. Gaps in the training pipeline are filled by data from the American Psychological Association and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers. These data were analyzed graphically to understand trends in psychology education, training, and employment for Caucasians, as well as non-Caucasian groups including African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Results indicate that at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, the percentage of Caucasians in psychology decreased while the percentage of non-Caucasians increased. At the doctoral level, the percentage of non-Caucasians increased, but at a much lower level compared to overall doctorates completed and the population representation. Higher percentages of Asians completed degrees relative to their representation in the overall population but had relatively fewer psychology degree completions. Similar trends were observed at the internship level. However non-Caucasian representation was much lower in APA as well as the psychology workforce. Thus although gains are being made at some points in the psychology pipeline, representation of non-Caucasians in the doctoral and professional levels is declining. Implications are discussed in terms of educational policy, training and professional practice in psychology.

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Keywords

Psychology, Representation, Pipelines, Race, Ethnicity

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