#BLACKandSTEM 06/19/14

Nowadays, there is a distinction of sexy as encompassing more than just sex.  To be considered sexy is to be considered desirable, alluring, and intriguing.  Individuals have different criteria for what they consider to be sexy, which is often influenced by the representations of sexy that we encounter on a daily basis.

It seemed fair that a Business Insider article wanted to show the drive, creativity, intelligence, and overall coolness that is required to be a scientist as sexy.  However, when the article featuring 50 “sexiest” scientists hit the internet, there was a collective side eye from many of my fellow Black women scientists.  In the process of attempting to show that smart is sexy, Black women were left out.  We were not found at this intersection of being intelligent and alluring.  While most Black women whose rebuttals I read were not surprised, they were, to say the least, annoyed – Black women are rarely represented as beautiful or as smart.  The many stereotypes associated with Black women are painful and demeaning, and omission – intentional or unintentional – from this list seemed like just another reflection of how deeply those stereotypes impact what we see (or don’t see) of ourselves in media.

In response to the article, Kyla McMullen (#BLACKandSTEM PhD) put out the call for Black women scientists to be featured in her own list.  And I have to say that, after watching the documentary “Dark Girls – A Look At Colorism And Internalized Racism” this past weekend, I noticed something even more resounding about McMullen’s list.  The Black women who she featured represent a defiance of the notions of beauty and allure that are common both inside and outside of the Black community.  McMullen amassed a broad representation of gorgeous Black women of different tones, features, and shapes whose resumes rival their beauty as the “thing” that makes them sexy.  

Read Kyla McMullen’s list for yourselves and answer today’s #BLACKandSTEM question:  How does #BLACKandSTEM redefine sexy?

Don’t forget to use the #BLACKandSTEM hashtag!

#BLACKandSTEM 06/12/14

There has been some ongoing interest (or debate, really), as of late, on the value and relevance of HBCUs.

Admittedly outdated data (more data, data) puts the percent of  bachelors degrees awarded to African Americans in STEM fields somewhere between 30-50% (range indicates modulation over the past 10 years).  HBCUs also appear to award STEM bachelors degrees to African American women at even higher percentages.  The majority of Black recipients of doctoral degrees earn bachelors from HBCUs, with ~30% of Black science and engineering doctoral graduates having bachelors degrees from HBCUs.  So the topic of HBCUs is very relevant to the #BLACKandSTEM community.

Today’s #BLACKandSTEM question:  Did you attend an HBCU? Why/why not?

Additional data on HBCUs:

Educational Outcomes at HBCUs

HBCU Productivity

NSF report on Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities

If you did attend an HBCU, consider filling your HBCU in on your successes.  Help them track the outcomes of their graduates.

Click here for storify.

#BLACKandSTEM 06/05/14

If you don’t follow Danielle Lee, PhD (@DNLee5) on twitter you might have missed a debate earlier this week in which she had to make the case for featuring BLACKandSTEM professionals (who are experts in their disciplines) as experts in the news.  There has been an ongoing battle to, not only see more Black men and women featured as experts in the news, but to also see more news on STEM topics in media that is targeted toward the Black community.

Last week, we talked about self-promotion.  Today, building on that, I want to talk about how we can leverage our community’s assets (knowledge base, experiences, etc) to increase the representation of #BLACKandSTEM in the media.

Today’s question is:

What can we do to increase the presence of #BLACKandSTEM in media, especially media geared toward the Black community?

Want more information on these efforts?  Go to nstns.org and follow @TheDarkSci

Click here for storify.