Being a #BLACKandSTEM Woman Twitter Chat Reflection

Every Thursday #BLACKandSTEM has Twitter chats on various topics. On Thursday, October 30, I participated in their discussion about being a Black Woman in STEM. In case you missed the Twitter chat click here to find out more information.

Let’s get started with my reflection:

As a double minority, I get the looks and the comments. Sometimes depending on where I am I get the question, “Are you really a scientist?” You are not what I thought a scientist would look like. We have to change the narrative of what a scientist looks like. STEM is for everyone and if we want to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM we need have representation of scientists everywhere. This Twitter chat touched on a lot of major points. Here are the two questions stood out to me:

Question 1: What are experiences that are associated with being a Black woman in STEM?:

Growing up I heard, “you have to work twice as hard to get half as far”. This should not have to be the case. Having to  prove yourself to others that you belong or that you are indeed the scientist in the room is exhausting. Black woman in STEM do exist and it is important that we lift up each other. Don’t get discouraged to pursue a STEM career. Here at Mademoiselle Scientist we support each other.

There have been many times when I have faced obstacles and I would get the question, “Are you sure you want to be a scientist?” And my answer, “Of course, I want to be a scientist, I’m not going to let obstacles stop me from achieving my career goals. I cannot imagine being in any other career. STEM is the career for me.” I want others who are interested in being in STEM to be supported and this is one of the reasons for this platform.

Question 2: What are the needs of Black women in STEM that are most overlooked?:

According to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans Fact Sheet: Supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Success among African American Students  there is a gender gap in pursuit of STEM careers. As the educational level in STEM increase there are less minority in women who receive doctoral degrees in STEM. This makes sense because I can count the amount of times I have met a Black woman toxicologist, virologist or vaccinologist. To combat this we need more resources, access to career opportunities, and have to examine the STEM pipeline closer because this issue extends across underrepresented groups. As resources become available we will start seeing more. It is amazing to see a Black woman be the first, but I do not want her to be the only one. We need more. STEM mentoring programs help make this possible. The earlier in the STEM pipeline we expose students, especially underrepresented minorities the more STEM diversity we will see.

I enjoyed this chat because I had a chance to chat with women (and men) around the world who had similar experiences. #BLACKandSTEM creates a good environment where minorities in STEM can come together and give advice so that we don’t have to feel alone. Remember you are not alone.

My take away messages from this Twitter chat are:

1. Keep pushing to achieve your goals
2. Make yourself the role model for others that you would want for yourself

If you want to read about my reflection as a black woman in STEM check out my post I did a few months ago. Also, check out @DNLee5 post, How it Feels to Be BLACK and STEM and a Woman. Click the links to see my other twitter chat reflection posts: Career Twitter Chat Reflection and Science Mentor Twitter Chat Reflection.

Thank you @BLACKandSTEM for having this conversation.

Do you have anything you want to add? Share below.

One thought on “Being a #BLACKandSTEM Woman Twitter Chat Reflection

  1. Pingback: #BLACKandSTEM 10/30/14 | #BLACKandSTEM

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