No Black women are not the “most educated” group in the US

2020 UPDATE: This post has been up here for four years now. It has been viewed 100,000 times, but the meme that started this has been viewed 10 million times.  I’ll summarize: Compared with Black men, Black women are highly educated (more than women of other groups, compared to the men in those groups). But compared with White (and some Asian) women, Black women have fewer degrees, on average, because of structural racism. You just can’t tell how great a group of people are by how many degrees they have. Black women have been materially oppressed in America forever, and they deserve better than this — more education, better education, and more respect — because Black lives matter.

If you would like a “real” source to cite for this, you can cite my book, Enduring Bonds, which includes a version of this post on pages 160-164.

Here’s the original post:

I don’t know where this started, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping. The following headlines are all completely factually wrong, and the organizations that published them should correct them right away:

The Root: Black Women Now the Most Educated Group in US

Upworthy: Black women are now America’s most educated group

SalonBlack women are now the most educated group in the United States

GoodBlack Women Are Now The Most Educated Group In The U.S.

And then the video, by ATTN:, on Facebook, with 6 million views so far. I won’t embed the video here, but it includes these images, with completely wrong facts:



What’s true is that Black women, in the 2009-2010 academic year, received a higher percentage of degrees within their race/ethnic group than did women in any other major group. So, for example, of all the MA degrees awarded to Black students, Black women got 71% of them. In comparison, White women only got 62% of all White MA degrees. Here is the chart, from the data that everyone linked to (which is not new data, by the way, and has nothing to do with 2015):


For Black women to be the “most educated group,” they would have to have more degrees per person than other groups. In fact, although a greater percentage of Black women have degrees than Black men do, they have less education on average than White women, White men, Asian/Pacific Islander women, and Asian/Pacific Islander men.

Here are the percentages of each group that holds a BA degree or higher (ages 25-54), according to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, with Black women highlighted:


23% of Black women ages 25-54 have BA degrees or more education, compared with 38% of White women. This does not mean Black women are worse (or that White women are better). It’s just the actual fact. Here are the percentages for PhD degrees:


Just over half of 1% of Black women have PhDs, compared with just over 1% of White women – and almost 3% of Asian/PI women. White women are almost twice as likely to have a PhD and Black women, Asian/PI women are more than 5-times as likely.

Racism is racism, inequality is inequality, facts are facts. Saying this doesn’t make me racist or not racist, and it doesn’t change the situation of Black women, who are absolutely undervalued in America in all kinds of ways (and one of those ways is that they don’t have the same educational opportunities as other groups). There are some facts in these stories that are true, too. And of course, why Black women (and women in general) are getting more degrees than men are is an important question. But please don’t think it’s my responsibility to research and present all this information correctly before it’s appropriate for me to point out the obvious inaccuracy here. You don’t need this meme to do the good you’re trying to do by sharing these stories.

Our current information economy rewards speed and clickability. Journalists who know what they’re doing are more expensive and slower. Making good graphics and funny GIFs is a good skill, but it’s a different skill than interpreting and presenting information. We can each help a little by pausing before we share. And those of us with the skills and training to track these things down should all pitch in and do some debunking once in a while. For academics, there is little extra reward in this (as evidenced by my most recent, sup-par departmental “merit” review), beyond the rewards we already get for our cushy jobs, but it should be part of our mission.

47 thoughts on “No Black women are not the “most educated” group in the US

  1. What does this mean?
    “By both race and gender, a higher percentage of black women (9.7 percent) are enrolled in college than any other group, topping Asian women (8.7 percent), white women (7.1 percent) and white men (6.1 percent)”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t know. At what age and education level is it referring to? Among high school graduates ages 17-24 (who haven’t graduated college), I get these attendance rates from the same ACS data:
      Asian/PI: 80%
      White: 61%
      Black: 53%
      Hispanic: 52%
      Am Ind: 42%

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those numbers came from here You can find them in “Table 1. Enrollment Status of the Population 3 Years Old and Over, by Sex, Age, Race, Hispanic Origin, Foreign Born, and Foreign-Born Parentage: October 2011”

        I assume all those authors got the same press release, since they all state those percentages with the same phrasing.


        1. Oh wow, thank you. That is completely an artifact of age distribution. That 9.7% is the percentage of the TOTAL population age 3+ that is in college. I will clarify.


    2. It can mean out of 1,000 black women, 97 of them are enrolled. As opposed to 10,000 white women, 710 are enrolled. See the difference?


  2. Facts. As a black woman, I’d love for the claims to be true. However, I was skeptical when I read the articles claiming black women to be the most educated group.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are so unwise to let a white man tell you “don’t believe the facts.” This is historically what they do disparage and attenpt to downgrade our accomplishments. Due to your obvious poor self esteem and lack of self worth. You have consumed the Kool-aid and thanked your lily white master for showing you the light. I don’t blame him but you are seriously in need of an education. Please attend a college any college and learn the basic rule everyone knows “you can not and should not believe everything
      you read. Do your own investigation.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Don’t worry, that’s why there’s data, studies, and facts to back it up. You don’t have to take the word of just anybody, but it is wise to take the word of the people who have studied, researched, and parsed this information. Or you can stick your head in the sand, ignore reality, and go “nyah nyah, not listening, blah, blah, racism, blah the facts don’t fit my narrative so they must be wrong”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. “By both race and gender, a higher percentage of black women (9.7 percent) are enrolled in college than any other group, topping Asian women (8.7 percent), white women (7.1 percent) and white men (6.1 percent)”

    Basically, out of the TOTAL POPULATION, we (Black Women) constitute the highest percentage of persons enrolled in college. That is, 9.7/100 percent of Black women are attending college (as compared to 6.1/100 percent of White males). Despite the confusing (and catchy headline), it’s not that difficult to understand…Of course, that might be because I’m a Black Woman.

    Liked by 11 people

  4. Thanks. There is no reason to include children and old people in the denominator of that rate though, so 9.7% is not a very meaningful number. The age breakdown in the chart above shows what matters more: high rates at older ages, low rates at younger ages. I think that’s what we need to understand in order to respond effectively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why would not include the total number of people? Why would you then take a sample to support your statement? In this case, why is a number derived from the population less meaningful than a number derived from a sample of that population?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I know this is old, but I’m just wondering…does excluding older people change the narrative as told by the data? It’s important to recognize that we had a lot more space for our (black women) numbers to grow because white men and women had a bit of a head start. Or are you only looking at data for 2015?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have choosen to ignore data from the Department of education. Wow additionally you have changed refused to accurately report the proper years from which the data was derived from. So much for accurate resorting

    Liked by 4 people

  6. You just can’t state numbers without looking at it through the population size. Black women only make up 6 or 7 percent of the total population but are almost 25 percent more likely to have a BA or BS degree. Then lets look at PhD’s. Half of one percent is a good start for black women especially when 40 years plus, they werent allowed to have any degree. While white women make up over 30 percent of the population, barely are overrepresented themselves compared to their population size in Ba or BS degress and forget it with PhD’s, not even a blimp. But had at least a 50 year head start. Facts without all the facts are not facts.

    Then lets consider white population decline once the large sector of the baby boomers die off. Black America continue to educate yourself, because we will no longer be the minority.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Best answer! Percent of the population is the most telling. What got me was how quickly they ran to chek the facts and try to disparage the statement in the first place. “Don’t scare us like that!” Some people are so clannish or live in these types of environments that they are unfamiliar with what minorities are doing. to them the Black Community is one big “Empire” stage…

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Be careful here, the stats quoted already take into account the size of the population. To convince yourself just look at the statistics for asians and remember asians are a smaller minority in the US.

      That being said black women are currently doing a terrific job educating themselves in the US and this could have tremendous beneficial effects for the black population in a near future, especially if black men were to follow their example.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this!!! I was thinking the same thing when I started reading these articles. Also, the article circulating note “more black women are enrolled” in college. That doesn’t equal educated. Also, educated doesn’t equal problems solved. That is what I find worrisome. People will read those articles or watch those videos and think “cool….problem solved” uh…hardly. I knew these numbers didn’t add up. Thanks for breaking it down.


  8. You will never fix the wage gap because you don’t own or control S#!+. Most of these degrees are in low value subjects. How did the Asians pass Black people as a whole? How did Hispanics pass Black people as a whole. Business ownership is the key, and you don’t own anything. Always begging white people for a job. Now pay your D@*& college debt.


    1. and what do you own? I’m on a full ride with an academic scholarship so what school debt do i have? we are the most educated women and will continue to progress and grow and surpass white women in the wage gap even though you have had a head start. look out strong black women are coming through.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. For you to waste your time with this means only one thing. You’re threatened by it. If you truly felt that something was untrue you would just ignore it. But the movie “Hidden Figures” says it all. The most educated people, even though they were small in numbers, we black females. Of course, credit is never given where it truely belongs.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “If you truly felt that something was untrue you would just ignore it” — one of the stranger attacks I’ve heard. Ignoring things that aren’t true is a bad idea, especially if, like me, you’re in the knowledge business.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. well uhm it would be strangest so why would we trust what you say if you don’t even know proper english.


  10. Only where’s your source? The root gave the source to the page where the study was concluded by The chart that they have does conclude black women having more higher education than the others. Its not like they made it up.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. no they didn’t some mathmatiction were used to interept the numbers there not wrong face the facts were the most educated and that’s that your “source is a bunch of lies”


    1. Except that’s not why he made a blog. He’s had this blog for a while now…I know, because I’ve been following it for a while now.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. These are lies in fact those charts she/he put up there are indeed very old the updated ones show black women exceed every race and gender by quite a large margin she/he doesn’t put the whole story just the one that makes her/him look correct.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Man, people are upset. As a Black woman, I would love for it to be true that Black women are the most educated. However, given what we know about systemic inequalities in our education system, it doesn’t make sense. Black women are now more educated than Whites or Asians…really?!?! Again, doesn’t make sense, no matter how much I would like for it to be true. Also, anecdotally, I’m currently enrolled in a Sociology PhD program, and out of about 50 or 60 students, there are only 3 Black women (including me) in our program. And if you go to other institutions across the country, you’ll see the same thing. Compared to Whites, Black women are drastically underrepresented in higher education.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hello Nicole,
      I agree with the findings, and I am also a Black woman pursuing a PHD in Health Administration, along with 6 other Black women in my cohort. Also, many of my black female friends also have degrees ranging from Bachelors to PhD’s. I would tend to agree with the findings because as a Black woman, I and other Black women know that education is the key to get that “proverbial” foot in the door, as compared to white males and females who may not need the additional assistance of education to obtain a particular job or get a raise. I also have a daughter that is in college and several of her female friends are also enrolled. It is what we are taught – that education is key. And I do believe that many young Black men and women understand that now.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. This article is straight garbage; with poorly researched information. The author seems to be a racist hater; who most likely cringes to know that black women are excelling at high rates in education. I’m a black woman with a Master’s degree in Psychology and I excelled in my statistics and research course; which means that I can sense “statistical bull crap” from a mile away. Nice try buddy, but your article seems to be based on your emotions and possible racism; instead of facts.

    Liked by 8 people

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