Composition of Internship Cohort Suggests Disconnect With DEI Priorities

April 19, 2021 | By Mimi Collins

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TAGS: coronavirus, diversity and inclusion, Internships, nace insights,

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Employers taking part in NACE’s 2021 Internship & Co-op Survey reported that, on average, 62% of their interns were white and the majority (57.6%) were male. (See Figure 1.)

Historical comparisons are not available, as this is the first time NACE has asked respondents to provide details about the composition of their internship cohort. Results, however, are consistent with data NACE gathered through its annual student survey, which found that marginalized groups were underrepresented in paid internships. Moreover, whereas nearly 58% of interns were men, men only comprise 43% of the four-year college-going population, according to IPEDS.

This suggests a disconnect with employer priorities around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as internship programs are a main source of entry-level talent. In fact, employers placed even more emphasis on their internship programs during the pandemic: Offer rates to interns jumped from 68% to 79.9%, potentially exacerbating the DEI disconnect.

The survey was conducted December 9, 2020, through February 5, 2021; a total of 227 NACE employer members responded, representing 25.7% of eligible members respondents, as well as 39 non-member employer organizations. Participating organizations can access a copy of the report in MyNACE; the report is also available through NACE.

Figure 1