by Blake Berry
The wealth gap between white and Black Americans has remained unchanged since the 1950s. Black people make approximately $0.50 for every $1.00 a white person makes ( Don Beyer, 2020). This disparity is due to many factors, the majority of which are a result of the systematic oppression in our society. Is education a way to start to begin closing this gap? The answer is yes. Increased enrollment and access to business-related degrees can be particularly impactful.
African Americans account for only 7% of finance and marketing majors and are overpopulated in the lowest-paying degrees such as human services, psychology, and social work. Finance and marketing careers earn some of the highest average salaries, approximately $64,000 as opposed to psychology and social work degrees that have an average salary of $42,000 (Georgetown, 2016). In addition to higher salaries, Marcus Carvey the Associate Professor of Economics at UIC highlights some of the other benefits of pursuing a business degree.“these fields typically feature curricula that foster the development of a broad set of skills including critical thinking, writing, modeling, and statistical analysis that are in high demand in the labor market today.”
Access to these business programs has always been a barrier for low-income African Americans. Thankfully, resources such as scholarships and mentorship programs are available to get students on track for a career. Rashid Carter, Professor of Economics and Business at Harold Washington College, shares ways students can learn about programs, “students should visit college websites, attend open houses and networking events, as well as speak with Black business school graduates, about their options.” One resource he shares, The Michigan Black Business Student Association works towards increasing minority enrollment at both the BBA and MBA levels.
Having a business degree today is more useful than ever. Due to the recent spark in social justice awareness, many companies are looking to diversify their staff. Even as a high schooler it’s a good idea to start thinking about if you want a business career. Don’t be discouraged, there are hundreds of resources available to help you get there.