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Remember when I said I was going to start getting involved in more twitter chats? So far I have been following #TWiV, #TWiGH, #ECRchat #PhDChat and #BLACKandSTEM chat. If you have any twitter chats I should check out let me know in the comment section.

On Thursday, October 30, I participated in a #BLACKandSTEM twitter chat hosted by @BLACKandSTEM. Every Thursday #BLACKandSTEM has twitter chats on various topics. Last Thursday’s topic was about being #BLACKandSTEM and a woman. When I heard about this topic I knew that I had to check it out.

Just in case you missed the #BLACKandSTEM 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. Now, tell me what is that supposed to mean? It shouldn’t matter if I am a woman, African-American or look young. However, we know in today’s world this happens. It’s a shame.

Things need to change. I think the two questions @BLACKandSTEM picked for the topic were great to get the ball rolling.

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

Having to prove yourself constantly to others that you are smart enough and fighting to achieve your goals when people don’t believe in you. Don’t get discouraged to pursue a STEM career. You picked a STEM career for a reason and you know it is the right career for you. There will be people who want you to fail. 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. Science is the career for me!”

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

I know that as an African-American in STEM I make up a small percentage most places I go. I can tell you I have only met a few African-American women toxicologists, virologists and vaccinologists. I know they are out there, but there are a few of them. I think the need for mentoring gets overlooked. I find that it is a challenge to find a mentor that is doing things that I see myself doing in my career. I get so excited when I meet other toxicologists, virologists or vaccinologists because my long-term goal is to become vaccine researcher. Over the years I have had many mentors and I appreciate them all. Also, black women in STEM need more opportunities, especially when it comes to leadership. I want to be a lead researcher and in order to do that I will need strong leadership research opportunities. In general black women in STEM need more role models.

There is so much I could write, but I will keep it short.

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 an African-American 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 I look forward to the next twitter chat!