“You don’t look like a scientist”.
I hear this statement a lot. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a female, Black, not “nerdy” looking, or what. But I do know that in my collegiate career and my professional career that I am one of few women and even fewer minorities. That is unacceptable to me.
As the United States continues to develop into an information based economy, we can expect STEM employment to continue to grow. Since 1990 it has grown 79%. That’s millions of jobs. Only 6% of STEM workers are Black (another 7% are Hispanic) and while women technically hold about 50% of STEM jobs, they are mostly clustered into the healthcare fields.
In 2019, why are these trends even a thing?
As always the reasons behind these types of issues is complicated. It could be lack of access to advanced courses in high school, lack of access to a college education, lack of encouragement to pursue a career in these fields, etc.
I believe one of the biggest reasons is lack of role models in STEM fields. Studies have shown that children are more likely to pursue a path when they see others who look like them doing the same.
Which gets to the main reason I started this blog.
I want girls and women, Black girls and women in particular, to see themselves in me. To know that science isn’t a man’s subject. It isn’t a field you need to feel you’re ill-equipped for. It’s for all of us.
So what could you do if you’re interested in pursuing science? Where do you start?
If you’re still young, I implore you to utilize any resources you may have at your school. Sadly if you’re in a less funded school district chances are your school has failed you in many ways. You will have to take the initiative yourself. Strive to make the grades to be eligible for honors/AP courses (if available). If your school lacks these resources your local library is your best friend. Read every book about the field(s) of science you’re interested in. Utilize the access to the computers. YouTube can be your second best friend when it comes to free science lectures.
If you’re an old fart like myself I’ll be honest, you’re going to need to have a degree if you want a job in pretty much all STEM fields. If you just have a casual interest I will also direct you to YouTube. Check out ASAPSciece, VSauce, and Kurzgesagt. They all explore a wide range of science topics and are really good at breaking the information down in a way the layman can understand.