Diversity in science math and engineering

Topics: African American, Racism, Colored Pages: 7 (1387 words) Published: May 6, 2014
Thomas Coleman

Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (DSTEM)

Hegemony hides under the guise of many names. In his book the seventeen irrefutable laws of teamwork John Maxwell identifies the term “group think”, and warns against its power to blind productivity and narrow the focus of a team(Maxwell, 2001). He suggests that in every meeting there should be someone assigned the task of maintaining a view of opposition to the rest of the group. This form of hegemony is pretty easily identifiable for business majors, however Hegemony in science technology engineering and mathematics, STEM, is hidden. The white male dominated community has stood to maintain the white privilege within the field and fueled the exploitation of women of color for many years. Angela Johnson identifies the source responsible for maintaining white hegemony in her study, Unintended Consequences: How Science Professors Discourage Women of Color. “White middle-class men make up the overwhelming majority of practicing scientists. Ironically while science professors teach students to be objective and logical, and to reason in ways which are neutral as to race, ethnicity, class, gender, and any other personal characteristic, the methods with they teach these skills are often not neutral to those same characteristics.” (Johnson, 2007). In other words the current system of education in STEM is not conducive to the education of women of color. Including women of color in STEM is seen as a critical issue. Women of color make up less than 2% of working scientists with a PhD, as opposed to white men who make up 62% (Johnson, 2007). This unintentional ostracizing of women of color will only further their exploitation in the name of science. Why is it acceptable to collect and propagate living cells from an African American woman without the consent of her family? Why is it okay to sterilize women of both Mexican decent as in the case of Madrigal v Quillian, or more recently of African decent as with the Relf sisters (Rojas, 2009)? It is the lack of representation in the STEM community of women of color that led to decisions like these. Unless we actively pursue a course of action to include women of color in STEM they will be subject to further exploitation by the white male majority in the field.

Johnson identifies three factors that lead to the exclusion of both African American women, and Latina women the first of which is the large class size of most of the lower division courses (Johnson, 2007). The women in the study identified large class size as an isolator, a majority of these women came from a very supportive High School environment, and most of these expressed a desire to have a more personal relationship with their teachers (Johnson, 2007). Further more they expressed a strong desire to serve their communities, but found themselves community less in the learning environment, or in other words they feel lost in the crowd. Women of both African and Latina decent have and maintain a strong sense of community which stems from a long history of oppression, this sense of community among these groups are evidenced in the socialistic platforms presented by the Black Panther Party, and El Plan De Aztlan. These civil rights platforms still reverberate within these communities today, and it is a necessity that we form a sense of community within the STEM educational community that will not only welcome women of color, but encourage them that their communal altruistic beliefs are valued.

Women of African decent have been subject to a dichotomous view of either being a bad Jezebel, or good a Mammy with no room for both to exist (Rojas, 2009). This deeply embedded belief that as a woman you are either good or bad leads to Johnson's next problem with the educational system. Class participation is greatly inhibited for the women in the study who stated that they have been socialized not to draw attention to themselves,...
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