EWSC hosts talk on career difficulties black women face

By Amanda Karp
On February 14, 2018

Photo courtesy of @stem_ewsc, Instagram

On Feb. 13, students gathered in the BSU Office for the Ebony Women for Social Change hosted-event “Hidden Figures: Black Women in STEM” to discuss the difficulties that black women face when pursuing a career.

The event also included a screening of the Academy-Award nominated film “Hidden Figures” which tells the story of the three female African American mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson; who made it possible for many key space missions to take place during the 1960s.

“The film is very inspiring,” senior Moesha Muir said. “Seeing those women inside NASA is motivating, and it shows that women can be in the field of engineering and succeed. You wouldn’t think that NASA had a group that consisted of black women that would be so highlighted, but with the film having the message of ‘you can do it!’ These women are the unsung heroes who made history.”

Niamani Foxworth, a senior, had a similar sentiment about the women at NASA being unsung heroes. “They were underestimated; people didn’t think they could do what men could.” She further remarked that seeing [Johnson’s] work pushed to the side makes minorities think they can’t do it, but this film is key in exhibiting the heights that people can reach with their drive and determination guiding them.

“As a woman in STEM,” Muir continued, “it’s simply inspiring.”

African American women face many issues in the field of STEM, when it comes to applying for jobs, and dealing with the bias that employers may have towards them. There may not be simply a race bias, but a gender bias as well, and it is possible that both issues might also intersect.

In such politically divisive times, it is important to be educated on matters such as these, and taking efforts to further empower women of color and have their voices heard.

There is a great need for STEM majors, especially those who are of a minority and are women students. One of the most important things to consider when trying to bring more women and minorities into the field of STEM is connecting the gaps that exist to provide people with more resources. Gaining a better understanding of these issues will hopefully cause society to be more active at taking action against gender and racial discrimination in STEM. 

Having this event on campus to highlight these issues helps bring necessary awareness and change to all communities. Taking part of these events on campus is one of the best ways to become better educated on these issues and to help fight against this problem.

There are many opportunities on campus to show support for STEM majors, particularly those who are minorities and women. This event was a great example of how both intersect and influence others.

Senior Juliette McLean, president of the Ebony Women for Social Change noted that there are upcoming events scheduled later this month, such as “Say My Name” on Feb. 19 in the Women’s Center, and “Simply Natural” on Feb. 20 in the BSU Office. 

 

akarp@ramapo.edu

 

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