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Surveys of black STEM workers indicate frequent discrimination

The racial background of people employed in science, technical, engineering or math fields in New York influences their perception of discrimination and diversity in the workplace. A report from the Pew Research Center found that black workers reported experiencing discrimination at work at greater rates than Hispanics, Asians or whites.

A full 62 percent of black respondents who worked in STEM occupations said their workplaces discriminated against them. Discrimination took several forms, including lower pay and subtle hostility. Hispanics and Asians only acknowledged discrimination at rates of 42 percent and 44 percent respectively. Blacks were also much more likely to link their racial identity to difficulty advancing their careers. Only about 40 percent of black workers believed that they their employers treated them fairly in regards to hiring and promotions.

Black STEM professionals especially felt that they were considered incompetent. Almost half of them, 45 percent, said that their colleagues viewed them as not performing well. Diversity in the workforce mattered most to black survey respondents more than Asians, Hispanics or whites. Although diversity among STEM workers has improved slightly over the decades, 84 percent of blacks within science and math fields still think their employers should make it a priority.

Although federal and state laws bar most employers from discriminating on the basis of race, a person might encounter trouble after experiencing racial workplace discrimination. A complaint to a boss might be ignored or lead to retaliation. Talking to an attorney could prove productive. An attorney could advise a person about documenting mistreatment and then prepare a formal complaint to the EEOC. This step could lead to negotiations with the employer about how to settle the case or result in litigation.

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