My experience of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths]
Science is a progressive field where methods and research are used to not only understand the world but to allow humans to thrive in it. However, there can be some aspects of the science industry that are not as progressive. As a Black woman in science, it can be hard to have your voice heard, feel confident and overall feel as if you are making an impact. As being a part of science and engineering myself I have had plenty of experience with not only being the only black person in the room but also being prematurely judged.
Growing up, in America, I lived in a very diverse place. I never really had to think too much about being Black or what that would mean for me in society. I don’t think it really occurred to me that I could be treated differently till I was 13 or 14. That was when I started taking advanced classes and I noticed there was slowly becoming fewer and fewer Black people around me. Starting off my first year of high school I had all Black friends. By the time my last year rolled around I had only one. I realised if I was going to continue my education I may have to get used to being the only Black person in the room.
When I started choosing Universities to go to I kept this in mind. In the States, we have something called Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs. They are universities where the majority of the population attending is Balck. They are open to all, however, they are a space where Black people can learn in a space specifically for them. I thought about the opportunity to learn and study around like-minded individuals who also understood what it was like to have chocolate dark skin. I ended up choosing a PWI or a predominately white institution as I realised while having the opportunity to study around individuals like me, ultimately I would have to get used to living in a world where people weren’t like me. Realistically I may be the only Black person in the room a majority of the time and even more likely the only Black female.
Now that it is my fourth year in University I have gotten used to being one of the few Black individuals in Engineering. I have had professors treat me differently and I have had to navigate the world recognizing that I may be perceived differently than my friends. While that is being said, not all of it has been bad. I have had so many opportunities that I am grateful for. I have made connections with amazing people but every now and then I look around the room and no one looks like me.
Increasing the number of black and non-white individuals in the STEM field increases diversity, expanding the backgrounds and experiences to meet the collective. Science and engineers work for the people and people are diverse. It is slowly getting better. I know first-hand how bad it still is. It is no longer acceptable to only have all white males in these STEM positions especially as we need diversity of thought and experience to enrich the world experience and view. It is important for women and people of colour to be exposed to the opportunities in STEM. I hope this blog provides you with the inspiration, guidance or overall encouragement to love and share the opportunity that STEM offers.
Until next time…