The Atlantic recently published a story highlighting the racial stratification of the workforce in the United States. Accompanying this story was an article that looked at one specific racial group: white people. This article titled “The 33 Whitest Jobs in America” listed the 33 jobs in which nine out of 10 workers in these occupations are white. The info graphic featured in the story is below:
The author of the piece, Derek Thompson, goes on to point out that many of the jobs that made the list are skilled construction jobs, like electricians, perhaps due to historic racial discrimination in trade labor unions. This explanation for the list is interesting for several reasons. First, some may or may not be surprised to learn that the effects of past racism still linger in society today — a rather jarring concept if one considers how the actions of current leaders of like organizations will impact the future.
I also wondered if occupations aside from those in the skilled worker category might also be related to discrimination over time. In the case of sales representatives, for instance, perhaps companies hiring these reps were hoping to appeal to a mainly white majority demographic and thought that hiring a sales rep who belongs to a minority group be unappealing to their target audience. Also, maybe chief executives are typically white because of companies reluctance to hire minority employees in general or preference for hiring white people. If this were the case, white people would then have more opportunities to move up the company ranks than minorities, simply because there are more of them employed.
Aside from these occupations, it’s interesting to consider other reasons why some of the less obvious jobs are on the list. For instance, veterinarians and EMTs/paramedics are included, but not doctors or surgeons, which are generally thought to be more prestigious and usually have higher salaries. Why aren’t there more minority architects or speech therapists?
The theories could go on and on, but the point of this article is perhaps not to analyze the reasoning behind each item on the list, but instead to consider how the smallest discrepancies between different racial demographics may result in some big consequences.