Why Blacks Remain Underrepresented in the Actuarial Profession: Social Cognitive and Contextual Variables in Career Choice Behavior of Black Actuarial Students


Author/Creator ORCID




Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy


Doctor of Education

Citation of Original Publication



The underrepresentation of Blacks in the actuarial profession has persisted for decades. However, to date, little theory-driven research has been conducted to examine variables that may influence the career choice behavior of Blacks pursuing an actuarial profession. The purpose of this research was to identify and examine the relationships among social cognitive and contextual variables that influence Black actuarial students’ goal intentions to continue pursuing an actuarial profession. Drawing from Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) and Social Capital Theory, a comprehensive framework was developed to examine the interactions among individuals’ predispositions, their environment and their career choice behaviors while providing exceptional attention to social systems (social networks and social capital) which significantly impact Black student career choice behaviors, especially in pursuing the actuarial profession. Except for Black international students, the results of this study support the use of the SCCT Career Choice Model as a reliable framework for examining the career choice behaviors of Black actuarial students. Priori and proximal social capital provided critically important relationships and strong correlations with Black students’ actuarial goal intentions revealing possible reasons why Black students and various Black student subgroups (female, male, US resident, Predominantly White Institution and Historically Black Institution students) may continue pursuing an actuarial profession. While actuarial self-efficacy showed the strongest correlation with goal intentions for the overall Black sample and Black subgroups, priori and proximal social capital followed up as the next highest. Findings indicate that priori and proximal social capital for Black actuarial students were more strongly correlated with Black students’ intentions to continue pursuing an actuarial profession than actuarial career barriers and technical interest. Moreover, findings indicate that environments at Historically Black Institutions may provide mechanisms that can inform effective interventions to alleviate many deterrents for Black students and provide greater levels of critical positive influences. Knowledge about these significant relationships with Black students’ actuarial career goal intentions can provide more insightful interventions that can help increase the representation of Blacks in the actuarial profession.