Exploring Society By The Numbers

Does Race Matter in My Intended Occupation?


In this module students examine economic opportunity as it exists in their intended career, focusing on the specific occupation that they intend to enter. They examine the following issues:

1. Are racial groups proportionately represented in your intended occupation?

2. If employment disparities exist between racial groups in employment in your intended occupation, is the gap narrowing?

3. What explains racial gaps and trends in employment and earnings?

In performing this analysis they learn how to calculate wage ratios, employment rates, as well as develop skills in creating and discussing graphic depictions of data.

Learning Goals

1. Understand the system that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to categorize occupations and how economic opportunity can be quantified within occupations.
2. Develop capacities to take pre-existing quantitative information and reconfigure it to provide greater depth of knowledge.
3. Identify the extent to which work opportunity (the number of jobs allocated) and compensation (earnings) can vary on the basis of race.
4. Consider the factors that may account for racial disparities in employment and earnings.

Context for Use

The exercise can be applied in undergraduate social science courses that consider issues of work, opportunity, inequality, and race.

Description and Teaching Materials

Two files are used in this module, instructions for Students "Racial Inequality in My Intended Occupation" and a related excel file containing earnings and employment data from 2000 and 2010 "SOC data"
Instructions for Students (Microsoft Word 355kB Aug5 12)
SOC data (Excel 598kB Aug5 12)

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