The Behavior Analyst Certification Board after much pressure from many individuals and agencies, not only agreed to collect demographic information, they have also agreed to release this information which is now listed on their website along with general information on the number of Certificants in each category.
While I am so happy that the BACB has decided to obtain and release this information, I am not thrilled with how the process of gathering the information was promoted to all Certificants. On August 7, 2020, I received an email which instructed me to log into my BACB Gateway to update demographic information. And that was the only communication I got. It would have been nice had the Newsletter sent on August 28, 2020 also had a request for Certificants to log into their account and update the information. It would have also been nice had the BACB informed their Certificants why they were now asking for this information. What purpose does it serve? Will it help me in any way? Will it help others in the field or those wanting to get into the field? What happens if I don’t complete it? What happens if I do complete it? Who will benefit from this information?
So eventually I made my way to the BACB Gateway for a completely unrelated reason, I was prompted to update my information and then I was done. Then on September 8, 2020 the information was released. It slowly made its rounds through social media until I happened upon it through another page I follow.
So great, now we have the data, what does it say?
First thing I noticed was the sheer amount of missing data. There are 121,528 certificants among the BCBA-D, BCBA, BCaBA and RBT categories and only 47,225 certificant respondents had been counted. There were 74,303 unrepresented voices. We only have data from less than 40% of all certificants as of July 2020. So, first thing, we need more data! Ok, so we have some data, what does the data say?
The BACB did a great job of splitting the data among the different certificate categories. All the important information is split among these categories. The second red flag I see is the considerable overrepresentation of the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx Community among the RBT certificate! Almost 30% of those in this community only held the RBT Certificate which requires 40 hours of training a High School Diploma and now a short exam. A large majority of Hispanic/Latino/Latinx individuals in this field are holding the field on their shoulders. Then we compare that to the percent of BCBA-D, BCBA or BCaBA Certificants who identify as Hispanic/Latino/Latinx and that number was less than 10% of all Certificants!
Now numbers and percentages are great, but I needed to see how this compared to the US Demographic Data. So, to the US Census Bureau I went. I found that Hispanic/Latino/Latinx individuals accounted for 18.5% of the US population by 2019 estimates. I also found that Black or African American Individuals accounted for 13.4% of the Us population by the same 2019 estimates. Now when we compare these data to the data collected by the BACB we can see how overwhelmingly underrepresented Black and Latinos are within the field of ABA. In total we only make up 13.3% of those with certifications which require an advanced degree. Only 13.3% when combined, we make up nearly 30% of the US population!
So now what? We have this data, and this can be our baseline. So, what is our intervention? What are we going to do to make this better? We know better, so how are we now going to Do Better?