Predominantly white institutions (PWIs) educate about 70% of all bachelor’s degree graduates and about half of all students of color. Students at PWIs tend to be segregated across fields of study, with women and people of color overrepresented in majors that lead to lower-paying occupations. Administrators at PWIs have a major opportunity to interrupt this segregation and promote inclusion and success of students of color in postsecondary education. This brief offers six key recommendations that administrators at PWIs can implement to reduce field of study segregation and shape a more equitable and dynamic future workforce.
From Exclusion to Opportunity: The Role of Postsecondary Education in Labor Force Segregation & Recommendations for Action
A four-year postsecondary degree offers opportunities for a higher income and upward economic mobility. However, postsecondary education—historically inaccessible to people of color and women—also plays a key role in reproducing and amplifying societal inequities by sorting students into specialized fields of study by race and gender, contributing to a segregated labor force. This report examines the link between postsecondary field of study and labor market segregation using an original quantitative analysis. This report presents four principles and corresponding recommendations that postsecondary institutions and policymakers can use to reduce racial and gender segregation across fields of study, increase degree attainment, and ultimately, ameliorate labor market segregation.
The COVID-19 public health and economic crisis made employment more scarce and exacerbated long-standing challenges—like access to quality child care—for millions of workers, particularly workers who are Black and Brown. This brief, published in partnership with Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, shares the success story of Milwaukee’s New Hope Project—a program with a package of work-based supports that included subsidized jobs, earnings supplements, affordable health care, and child care. New Hope provides a blueprint for creating holistic, work-based approaches that significantly improve employment and family outcomes for participants and their communities, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.