A few years ago, I was asked to write a feature for Nature blogs on the need for more Black women in the sciences functioning in mentoring and advising roles. I was honored to lend my voice to the narrative of Black women in science and STEM in general. I was pleasantly surprised about the reception overall; I experienced my article being used to support efforts for diversity in many spaces. There were some less than pleasant responses which I casually stepped over on my way to progressing forward in my own personal goals, I wasn’t surprised. However, the shock came when I encountered the perspective that my voice, one voice, was all that was needed to understand the needs of Black women in STEM educational programs and workplaces.
After the very first #BLACKandSTEM chat, I knew I wanted to continue to do a weekly chat. Whether 2 or 200 showed up, this space was an instant community. Immediately, I saw that on any given topic, we, the #BLACKandSTEM, represent a wealth of experiences and perspectives. I recalled my article and my feeling that, while I challenged preconceived notions on the experiences of Black women in STEM, I had potentially represented an excuse to no longer listen. (Sort of a “We’ve got the answers we need” attitude.) But our broad and varied narrative is one that is necessary. When so few Black women are faculty at research one institutions…When Black women reflect a fraction of a percent of software developers in major corporations…While Black women are earning less that their counterparts in the same positions…When Black women have to contend with the social structures that are obstacles for women and for Black folk…OUR NARRATIVE IS NECESSARY
Today’s #BLACKandSTEM chat is the first in a series on intersections, starting with being #BLACKandSTEM and woman. We will start with two questions, spinoff conversations are welcome. (Remember to use the #BLACKandSTEM hashtag!)
Full disclosure: I will write an article about today’s chat. If you don’t wish to be cited, please send me a DM to @thepurplepage or @BLACKandSTEM. If you are interested in being interviewed, send a DM to either account.
- What are experiences that are associated with being a Black woman in STEM?
- What are the needs of Black women in STEM that are most overlooked?