Monday, February 01, 2010

The ethnicity of scientists

The General Social Survey asks respondents (American) about occupation and ethnic background. Here are the percent of all natural scientists in each ethnic group (those who are less than 5% of the total are excluded):











The ratio refers to the share of natural scientists compared to the ethnic group's share of the total population. You can see that Americans of English, Irish, Italian and especially Scottish descent are natural scientists in disproportionate numbers.

The picture changes for mathematical and computer scientists. Americans of Polish and especially Asian Indian descent are more likely than other groups to have this kind of job. 

The only two large American groups that did not each produce at least 5 percent of natural, mathematical, or computer scientists were blacks and Mexican Americans. (I was surprised that Jews were only 1.0 percent of the natural scientists and 2.9 percent of the math/computer scientists--small sample size does not help).  


6 comments:

KingM said...

I am about 60% Scottish (40% English/Danish/Swedish) and come from an extended family of engineers, lawyers, and business owners. I know that Scots are overrepresented in such fields, but I'm not sure why we should have an evolutionary advantage. Scotland was a backwater for most of the last thousand years and wouldn't seem to have any advantage over other Europeans for producing high-IQ individuals.

Genius said...

I'd be surprised if a good chunk of the "Germans" and the majority of the "Poles" were not Ashkenazi Jews.

Ron Guhname said...

You'd think so, but none of those with ancestors from Germany or Poland were Jewish. Jews were from Hungary, Russia, Italy, Sweden, and Amerindian!

wreaver said...

@KingM said,
"I know that Scots are overrepresented in such fields, but I'm not sure why we should have an evolutionary advantage. Scotland was a backwater for most of the last thousand years and wouldn't seem to have any advantage over other Europeans for producing high-IQ individuals."

Perhaps the Scots that came over to North America are not representative of the Scots in Scotland. I.e., maybe there was some kind of bias. Or even, maybe they changed while they were in North America, due to different selective pressure.

Larry, San Francisco said...

These results seen a little skewed. I was just looking at my alma maters faculty list (Stanford). My guesstimate from looking at faculty members names is that over 1/4 of the physics and about 1/5 of the biology department were likely to be Jews. Chemistry does not seem to be too Jewish though (only 1 for sure).

Anonymous said...

Scots are over-represented in natural sciences in the UK as well (and I believe Scottish emmigrants to England tend to outperform the mean in terms of representation in other high education fields).