When you think of physicists you typically think of a white dude in a lab coat. My go-to is Professor Utonium, can’t even front. A task force of physicists has come together to potentially change that perception.
NBC News reports that a task force backed by the American Institute of Physics has recommended a $50 million endowment be created to help black students break into the field of physics. The National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy believes that half of the endowment should go directly towards supporting students and the other half should be donated to support departments at historically black colleges.
In 2017, black students only made up about 4 percent of those who obtained bachelor degrees in the field of physics. This is despite the field showing an unprecedented level of growth over the past few years. The task force hopes to double the number of black graduates to 500 by the year 2030. This is not only to increase diversity in the field but to ensure that minority groups aren’t left out of emerging markets.
Tabbetha Dobbins, a member of the task force, said this:
“All of the growing disciplines — the self-driving cars, all of the satellite technology necessary for our cellphone communications and transmissions — these are all topics that are undergirded and underpinned by physics. Students are really able to enter the emerging technologies with the physics degree.”
Technology is constantly changing and evolving. As new tech is created, new jobs are created. As automation continues to take over more and more service jobs, tech seems to where most jobs will be created in the coming future. This creates a fiscal imperative to get more minority students into the field so that they aren’t left out what may be one of the few truly viable industries going forward.
Hopefully, the efforts of this task force will change our ideas of what the standard physicist looks like.