If you’re still catching up with recent Chronicle issues, you might have missed Stacey Patton’s Oct. 27 article entitled “Black Man in the Lab.”
Patton reviews some on-going questions, pointing out that two decades of affirmative action and diversity initiatives still haven’t rendered these questions obsolete:
- Why do black males underperform in grade-school and high-school math and science classrooms?
- Why do so few pursue STEM degrees?
- Of those who enter college with the intention to major in STEM fields, why do so many switch to other disciplines?
- And among those who persist and graduate with science majors, why do so few proceed to Ph.D. programs?
Patton acknowledges a number of reasons: “Among the factors are academic and cultural isolation, the difficulty of performing in the face of negative stereotypes and low expectations among faculty members, a lack of mentors of color and friendship networks, concerns about financial debt, inadequate advising and emotional support during times of stress, and lack of exposure to hands-on research.”
One interesting point made in this article was that the literature is only filled with the negative data and the negative factors, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps, Patton suggests, we should “stop fixating on negative data and start telling the stories of black success.”
Here at Lincoln, where STEM and STEM students are pointed to with pride, what success stories can we offer? Maybe we can use this week’s blog to brag a little, and then share the results with our students and our colleagues at other institutions? What are we doing right?