Scientific Careers and Race

by Quendi 85 Replies latest social current

  • Quendi

    The successful deployment of Curiosity on Mars has once again made me shout for joy and groan in pain. Let me explain. NASA posted a picture on its website showing the joyful celebration when Curiosity signaled it had reached the surface of Mars intact. Having been involved with space science myself, I can well understand how everyone in that room felt and share their feelings of joy and triumph.

    But in looking at the faces in the room, I also felt great sadness. There were men, there were women, but there were very, very few people of color. Being African-American myself, and having held an internship with NASA, I know the opportunities are there for anyone with the requisite education and talent to participate in space science. Why are there so few people of color involved in programs and careers of this sort?

    I have also been a high school mathematics teacher and have noticed this same disparity in that field. Oh, I’ve seen plenty of Asians involved in mathematics, but other minorities shy away from it. And as far as jumping into physics, astronomy and engineering, I’ve seen the same lack of interest and participation. So I’d like to open a thread on this and get other people’s thoughts. There is a problem. Why, despite decades of effort, has the situation not changed? And what suggestions do any of you have to that could make a difference.

    It used to be that women faced all kinds of discrimination entering fields like medicine and law. Those barriers no longer exist. Women are active in other previously male-dominated professions as well and NASA has done a great deal of work in bringing women into its fold. But for some reason, there has been a notable lack of response and participation by people of color in space science. I look forward to your comments.


  • botchtowersociety

    The best math teacher I ever had was a black man. AP Calc in 11th grade.,0,4428327.photogallery

    I look forward to your comments.

    Quendi, all you can do is stand up for yourself, as an individual.

  • panhandlegirl

    Quendi, as a Hispanic woman I believe that most people of color think these attainments are not for them. Those who have made it to a University to develop those skills had parents or someone who helped them believe that

    they could accomplish being a success in whatever they attempted. Out of my father's ten children, I am the only one with a University degree. I am the eighth child and a woman. I never thought I could be a Registered Nurse with

    a BSN. The only reason I made the attempt was because I was desperate for a way to make a decent living. After attending University, I realized I had the ability to have become a doctor, a lawyer, or whatever I wanted, with the

    exception of a mathematician (I am smart enough to know my limits). It is sad to not see more Blacks or Hispanics represented in the math and science fields. I feel it is lack of motivation and knowledge of the fields but also lack of

    examples and belief that these fields are open to them and that they can do it. My father worked for Philips Petroleum and they provided a free college education (2 years) for the employee's children and we still did not take

    advantage of it. I just believe we didn't think it was meant for us because even the Catholic Hispanic kids whose fathers worked for Philips Pet did not take advantage of the free college.

  • snowbird

    Quendi, I share your pain and sorrow.

    We have lost an entire generation to the prevailing mindset that it's not cool to be smart.

    My youngest grandson is a casualty of such thinking; he was picked on and derided to the point that his mother is going to homeschool him.

    It is so heartbreaking, but what can a grandmother do?

  • panhandlegirl

    The President of the Oncology Nurses Organization, a world wide nurses organization is a vibrant Black woman from Atlanta, GA.

  • snowbird

    I love stories of people who have triumphed despite the odds.

    This little gymnast has captured my heart - not scientific, but thrilling nonetheless.


  • mrsjones5

    " We have lost an entire generation to the prevailing mindset that it's not cool to be smart."

    And I wonder why is that so? I got the same attitude from my classmates in the 70's. Why the backlash about being smart and bettering one's self with advanced learning? It's 40 years later and I still don't get it.

  • wasblind

    Oh Yes Josie and Syl, I wonder the same thing

    I had to instill in my daughter , the value of an education

    the only way I could do that was to explain to her just how precious

    gettin' an education was, and that it was not always a priviledge

    Which brings me to the WTS, somethin' I have come to detest

    they discourage all of the opportunties QUENDI has mentioned

    by discouraging futher education

    I only hope those who run across this site see this


  • wasblind

    Also I would like to say that it has a lot to do wit the school system

    they attend, and they efforts of parents becomin' actively involved

    throught out their childs school career.

    When a child see their parent involved in the PTSA and other things

    concernin' school , gives motivation to the child

    I would use vacation days from my job just to volunteer at her school


  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    Just a guess on my part, but I think athletics and entertainment are considered the only routes to success for many blacks. The old stereotype that blacks are somehow less mentally capable in academics still lingers in the minds of many, and is just plain wrong.

    Something I heard once is that in school and business, whites and Asians are good at mentoring and motivating one another, but blacks, not so much. In many places this is changing. But in the meantime, too many talented people aren't getting the encouragement they need to meet their potential.

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