How Does Travel and STEM Connect?
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
*A version of this article was re-featured on Sisters Traveling Solo.
"Science is not a boy's game, it's not a girl's game.
It's everyone's game. It's about where we are and where we're going."
STEM is as much as a part of my identity as travel is. When you look through newspapers or magazines or go to conferences (both domestically and worldwide), how many #femalesinSTEM do you notice? Probably not that many. Let's add an extra variable. What about black females in STEM? Maybe 2-3 if you are lucky. I have attended dozens of conferences and have felt like the odd man (or in this case) woman out. I am often the person "bringing the color" to the room. For example, I attended a Project Lead the Way training for two weeks in Colorado and when I entered the room, I immediately began counting on one hand the amount of colored people in that one room. One...two...yup THREE. Just three: a Mexican male, one of the instructors, and myself. I wanted to give the instructor a high five of female empowerment and embrace the fact we were women of color AND Caribbean AND in #STEM. But of course that would have brought more attention to the fact we already stood out. There is nothing wrong with a low key "yaaaasss."
The black females in STEM who make it are often praised for such a huge accomplishment. Not to downplay their accomplishments by any means (and often growing up I was put on this same pedestal) but when will we live in a world where black females in the lab or being the head of the science department is the norm and not the anomaly? Exposure to these issues by traveling and experiencing it is important. I have a particular interest in #breakingbarriers for Black Females in STEM because of my personal experience with it. I am an African American female who was originally on the pursuit of a STEM career as a doctor. However, I later discovered my passion was in mentoring others to attain a STEM career. Through my experiences in college, I noticed that many minorities were inadequately prepared for STEM classes, especially at an Ivy League institution. Many peers who looked like me were dropping out. From my research project in Fall 2014, I discovered there is actually a "leaky pipeline" where black females show the most interest in STEM but end up the least likely to go for a #STEMcareer. Going to events about STEM and seeing very few role models that look like my students, I am invested in inspiring black females others to make it through the cracks so they can be the new face of STEM #diversity.
As an educator, I try to engage my students both inside and outside the classroom with STEM. Whether that is through providing hands-on activities and projects, bringing my students on trips and conferences, or having speakers come speak to my students, I am determined to provide as much direct exposure to my students as possible. Now as an Assistant Principal, I hope to make that impact more large scale. I want the students I serve to enthusiastic and nerdy about STEM as much as I am. (Let me save you from one of my many, many corny jokes...for now).