Post Details

Posted On:
June 22, 2020
at 12:23 pm

Kelly Greene


A Juneteenth Message: #BlackLivesMatter in STEM

Over the past few weeks, we have joined people across the country in facing the realities of the immense and often violent systematic racism that Black people face on a daily basis. Inspired by how so much of the country has come together to support and advocate for black lives, we have been thinking about what our role is in the fight for social justice.

In school, most people learn that science is the pursuit of objective knowledge. As such, many scientists and non-scientists alike don’t consider how racial biases and social inequities affect who gets access to STEM learning opportunities, who becomes STEM professionals, and what types of scientific research gets funded. As an organization that prides ourselves on encompassing “all things STEM” we recognize a critical need for all our stakeholders to become aware of and engage in conversations surrounding social justice in STEM. In this letter, you will find resources to learn about how racism impacts STEM opportunities in PK-12, college, and the workplace, as well as resources to guide you in being an ally for Black lives in STEM.

Below is a small sampling of statistics to spark conversations with your fellow students, teachers, scientists, and coworkers about how #BlackLivesMatter in STEM:

  • STEM Opportunity: Of US high schools with the highest percentage of Black and Latinx students, a quarter do not offer Algebra II and a third do not offer chemistry.[1] In addition, only 57% of Black and African American students attend high schools where the “full range” of STEM courses are offered (Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics) compared to 71% of White students and 81% of Asian students.[2]
  • STEM Representation: There are twice as many Black college students as there are Black faculty.[3]
  • Racism Persists in Higher Ed: Black people who have attended college are more likely to say they’ve faced certain situations like people acting suspicious of them, being unfairly stopped by the police, and fearing for their personal safety because of their race[4]
  • Racism in the Workplace: 62% of Black STEM employees say they have experienced discrimination at work due to their race or ethnicity.[5]
  • Anti-Blackness in Modern Medicine: “A 2016 survey of 222 white medical students and residents published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that half of them endorsed at least one myth about physiological differences between black people and white people, including that black people’s nerve endings are less sensitive than white people’s.”[6]

It is also important to acknowledge the many ways that Black people have been overlooked, used, and abused by western science. Ranging from the abuses endured by Black patients in the Tuskegee Study[7] to the buried contributions of African American women in NASA’s “space race,”[8] science has a long history of exploiting Black bodies, knowledge, and achievements.[9] We owe it to our Black students and colleagues to continue learning about science’s racist foundations so we can actively work toward a more just future in STEM.

At SciTech Institute, we acknowledge that we are not the experts in this realm. Our small staff of primarily White employees cannot speak to the experiences or needs of Black people in STEM. What we can do, however, is use our platform to bring these voices to the forefront of your attention. We ask that you join us in our commitment to continue seeking out the voices of Black people in STEM to help guide the diversity and inclusion initiatives we champion.

We are in this fight for the long haul. In addition to doubling down on our efforts to champion equity in everything we do, we are taking the following steps to build on the current momentum of social justice conversations happening around the country and around the world:

  1. We will be adding a “Diversity and Equity in STEM” category to our resource page on the SciTech Institute website, featuring the resources highlighted in this newsletter with the tag #BlackLivesMatter in STEM. Community members can contribute to our resource directory here:


  2. The Chief Science Officer (CSO) program, our international STEM ambassador program for 6th-12th grade students, will elect and convene its first CSO Committee on People of Color in STEM for the 2020-2021 school year.
  3. As the first of a series of planned community working groups, we will be inviting community members to join the inaugural Arizona Committee on Diversity and Equity in STEM. This committee will be responsible for deciding their agendas and goals, and SciTech will host (virtually or in person) quarterly meetings where members of the committee can advise on SciTech Institute initiatives.

To follow the continuing conversations on social media about being Black in STEM and academia, follow #BLACKandSTEM #BlackinSTEM #BlackInTheIvory #BlackAFinSTEM





Arizona Organizations

NAACP Arizona State Conference

Arizona Center for African American Resources

Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro

National Organizations

Black Girls Code

Black Women in Science

National Society of Black Engineers

The National Society of Black Physicists

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering

Black Women in Science and Engineering

Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology

Science for the People: People of Color Caucus

Free Radicals

Black Science History

10 Black Scientists You Should Know

Amazing Black Scientists

Making History: African-American Pioneers of Science

Learn and Listen:

Resources for Scientists and Academics

Decolonizing Science Reading List

Decolonizing Technology Reading List

Webinar: Black Lives Matter + Science for the People

I’m a Black Female Scientist. On My First Day of Work, a Colleague Threatened to Call the Cops on Me

It’s Time for Environmental Studies to Own Up to Erasing Black People

This Is What I Want To Tell My White Professors When They Ask, ‘How Are You Today?’

‘I Was Fed Up’: How #BlackInTheIvory Got Started, and What Its Founders Want to See Next

Neil Degrasse Tyson on being Black, and Women in Science

Women of Color in the Engineering Workplace (publication)

What To Do

From The University of Arizona: Ways you can help the Black Lives Matter movement and speak out against racism

4 Ways That Scientists and Academics Can Effectively Combat Racism

What Black Faculty Need From Our White and Asian Allies

For Educators

5 Things Educators Can Do to Address Bias in Their School

How to Root Out Anti-Black Racism From Your School

Racial Equity in Education: Black Lives Matter at School

Math and Social Justice Curriculum Resources

Bring Social Justice into the Science Lab









[9] For more examples, see Free Radical’s recent Facebook post here

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