I am not sure if I should be writing this, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the past few days. There is a lot of talk about increasing #diversityandinclusion, and bias awareness amongst faculty, and which I think most people will agree is important. (1/12)
Alongside that conversation is a discussion of how to increase and retain students from underrepresented perusing graduate degrees in #STEM. (2/12)
A lot of these discussions (in my experience) have centered around what faculty can do to be aware of their biases, and perhaps what administrators can do to attract and support underrepresented groups in STEM fields. (3/12)
On the other hand, I have heard little talk about the interactions of students from underrepresented groups with their peers, and how these interactions are just as important with respect to retaining students. (4/12)
I think about my own experience transitioning from my undergraduate institution to my graduate program. As an undergrad, I had not felt #racism, with respect to my educational experience. I felt welcomed and respected and included by my peers. (5/12)
That changed when I started graduate school. I was constantly reminded that I was a #blackwoman. When I would go out with my peers, more often than not, there would be some sort of #racist joke. It leaves one feeling ostracized. (6/12)
In order to navigate that space, I had to always be on guard to protect myself from the next offense. Never able to really be myself or relax. Always aware of the weight of being one of two visibly black students in the department, I was a de facto ambassador of blackness. (7/12)
I constantly felt that my presence in the department was constantly being questioned by my peers. Couple that with the pressure of #gradschool and #STEM research in #chemistry, it was overwhelming. (8/12)
And when I tried to defend myself, I suddenly am labeled the #angryblackwoman. If I didn’t have my dearest friends @DarthScience and @Smoussa3298 to support me, I would have quit. (9/12)
I think when these negative interactions between underrepresented students and their peers occur, it is easy for faculty to assume the student in the minority must be at fault, especially when #intrinsicbias comes into play. (10/12)
I mean, come on, only this student seems to be having a problem. Why would everyone be complaining about this one student if they weren’t incompetent, or had a bad attitude, or ... (11/12)
This is me speaking from my experience, and it doesn’t represent the experience of all persons of color ( #wearenotamonolith). I guess this is my plea, that faculty consider that bias exists in student-student interactions too. And being aware of that may change outcomes (12/12)
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