Black Women in the United States, 2014, is a groundbreaking report developed by the Black Women’s Roundtable to assess the overall conditions of Black women in the U.S.
I ran across this report this morning in Essence Magazine, while on a flight to Cleveland. I read the full 90-page report in its entirety, which is divided in these categories: Health, Education, Economy, Retirement Security, Labor Unions, Violence, Entrepreneurship, Politics and STEM. The report is truly intriguing – pick a section that interests you and dig in – #KnowledgeIsPower – or if you want to get a broad perspective, read the 5-page Executive Summary, saturating o page 4.
I want to focus on the last section of the report, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – better know as STEM. Let me share one alarming but well-known fact:
Black women now constitute only 2% of the science and engineering workforce in the U.S.
“This dismal landscape range from a lack of female role models and support structures in the STEM fields to racial and gender stereotyping.
First, as Black girls start to consider college majors and careers, the choice of STEM fields are not introduced or reinforced by respected role models.
Second, Black women who pursue college majors in STEM cite the absence of mentors (i.e. faculty members and teaching assistants) as a significant reason why some Black women leave the STEM fields.
I’ll admit that those of us who ARE black women in STEM fields NEED to do better when it comes to reaching back, sharing with, teaching and encouraging our youth. Most of our kids have no problem when it comes to Technology. BUT ALSO: Math is Important. Science is Important. The Problem Solving Skills learned in Engineering is Important. This cannot be undermined and it needs be required and started early with strong & positive reinforcements. This is non-negotiable.
There are positive images / role models of black women out that there I have tweeted about, just in the past few months, including:
Girl, 16, graduates from high school and college in same week
FLOTUS Inspires Students to #ReachHigher with New Social Media Campaign
Erika H. James named dean of Emory’s Goizueta Business School
These are the kind of stories that get me excited about STEM and nudge at my heart, telling me to do something, do better, to get involved. This weekend I watched Maya Angelou’s Memorial Service this past Saturday – it was beautiful. One of her quotes that was mentioned several times reads: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” It’s time for ME to step up! AND to LIVE what I tweeted that very day: “Live The Legacy.“
The advancement of STEM for women cannot be a one-woman show, it has to be an every-woman show. It’s time for us to take it all the way!