Despite a slight increase in the number of engineering degrees achieved by Black/African American and Latinx students over the past two decades, the two groups still lag severely when it comes to turning those into jobs in the field.

According to a report done by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, at its current pace it would take 76 years to balance positions with those held by White and Asian workers. That gap is most severe for Black individuals: an estimated 256 years to achieve racial equity.

“It shouldn’t take decades or centuries to ensure diversity in the engineering workforce mirrors diversity in society,” said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. “This report makes clear that Black and Latinx individuals are underrepresented and underpaid in the engineering workforce. It will take a comprehensive, committed, and innovative approach from employers and universities to close the gap.”

In its study Mission Not Accomplished: Unequal Opportunities and Outcomes for Black and Latinx Engineers, researchers highlighted that Whites and Asians not only hold a steep majority of those jobs (84%) but that Whites often earn more and get more lucrative opportunities than their colleagues.

The disparities cross more than racial lines. Approximately 1.6 million individuals work in engineering, but only 3% of those are Black/African American women or Latinx women.

Engineering degrees are effectively golden tickets to successful careers and earnings potential. According to CEW and APLU, those who graduate and pursue careers in the field earn 25% more to start than other graduates. Those who have specialized degrees can earn as much as 90% to 125% more.

Read the full article about equity in STEM by Chris Burt at University Business Magazine.