Publication Date: 5/10/2021
Outlet: Physics Today
Author: Bryné Hadnott

Black women’s experiences in STEM inspire an annual workshop

The Women+ of Color Project aims to increase representation in STEM PhD programs in the face of a lack of support from academia.

When LaNell Williams arrived at Harvard University in 2017 to begin a graduate program in physics, several of her peers told her she had been admitted only because she was a Black woman—her 3.9 GPA, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and two coauthored scientific papers notwithstanding. During an open house for the incoming class, she asked her fellow students why they thought no other underrepresented racial minority woman had been admitted to the physics department that year. “We [women of color] hear many different things in those conversations, one of them being that we’re not interested in physics, which isn’t true,” Williams says. “Or that some of us don’t have the pedigree, which is also not true. And then the last thing is that we don’t apply—and in some cases that is true.”

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