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Dr. Mae C. Jemison

Stephanie Wilson

Joan Higginbotham

Dr. Yvonne Cagle

As we admire these women this month, we must also remember how difficult of a journey they must have had. And we must make a commitment to make the journey easier for little Black girls who are interested in science.

In her book Swimming Against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education, Sandra Hanson explodes the myth that black girls are somehow disinterested in science due to hyper-religiosity or “culture.”   Hanson found that, despite significant institutional and societal barriers, there is greater interest in science among African American girls than in other student populations. She frames this seeming paradox in historical context, stressing that “Early ideologies about natural inequalities by race influenced the work of scientists and scholars as well as the treatment of minorities in the science domain.  Racism is a key feature of science in the United States and elsewhere.  This has a large impact on the potential for success among minority students.  Early work on science as fair has not been supported.”

Hanson outlines some of the obstacles that confront budding African American women scientists from elementary school to the postgraduate level.  Stereotypes about girls of color lacking proficiency in science, the absence of nurturing mentors, the dearth of education about people of color who have contributed to science research (i.e., culturally responsive science instruction), and academic isolation often deter youth who would like to pursue science careers.


Conservatives who disdain “liberal multiculturalism” in higher education dismiss such concerns about diversity in hiring as handwringing.  According to this view there is only one standard academia should use; objective and unbiased, untainted by affirmative action.

Yet white students are beneficiaries of cradle to grave affirmative action.  White students grow up seeing the dominant image of rational, trailblazing scientific discovery (from films like Dr. Strangelove to 2001: A Space Odyssey to Close Encounters to The Right Stuff) as spearheaded by courageous rugged individualist generally white males.  They are socialized to believe in a template of “purely” meritocratic success and individual achievement. Meritocracy becomes gospel and lucre.  They can take it to the bank and use it to repel the less qualified savages.

While she was at UCLA Devin Waller was the only African American woman in the Astrophysics department. On the first day of her upper division classes she recalls being asked by male students befuddled by her presence whether or not they “were in the right class.” Since peer networking and study groups in science departments are largely white and male, white academic success and scholarly legitimacy in science become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For black women in white male dominated professions, showing vulnerability and having any kind of public failure are simply not options. Like many women of color Devin’s approach was that “You kind of go in there and set a precedent. Everything you do is watched. You have to establish yourself as intelligent. There were no black women in my classes. No one who looked like me.”

Not having anyone who looks like them as a faculty member, administrator and/or mentor influences the sense of isolation, anxiety, and burnout that students of color often experience in science disciplines.  As an Electrical Engineering major Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit dedicated to developing African American girls as computer programmers, also found herself “feeling culturally isolated” during college.  On her website she argues that  the “dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions…cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields. Lack of access and lack of exposure to STEM topics are the likelier culprits.”

In her autobiography Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life, Mae Carol Jemison (the first black woman astronaut and first woman of color in space) reflects on how, after professing interest in being a scientist to one of her teachers, she was told to set her sights on being a nurse instead.  As a sixteen year-old undergraduate at Stanford University, Jemison was practically shunned by her physical science instructors.  Although her experiences occurred during the sixties and seventies, the dominant view of who is a proper scientist has not changed and nursing is still a more acceptable aspiration for black women who are culturally expected to be self-sacrificing caregivers for everyone in the universe.

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inothernews:

EASY AS 1,2,3  Saturn’s B rings are captured by the Cassini spacecraft. The C ring is also visible inside the B ring and the A ring is seen near the top and bottom of the image. Scientists are trying to better understand the origin and nature of the various structures seen in the B ring, the densest and most massive of all the rings.  (Photo: NASA via The Telegraph)

inothernews:

EASY AS 1,2,3  Saturn’s B rings are captured by the Cassini spacecraft. The C ring is also visible inside the B ring and the A ring is seen near the top and bottom of the image. Scientists are trying to better understand the origin and nature of the various structures seen in the B ring, the densest and most massive of all the rings.  (Photo: NASA via The Telegraph)

Video

thescienceofreality:

“To observe how winds move high in Earth’s atmosphere, scientists sometimes release clouds of barium as tracers to track how the material corkscrews and sweeps around – but scientists have no similar technique to study the turbulent atmosphere of the Sun. So researchers were excited in December 2011, when Comet Lovejoy swept right through the sun’s corona with its long tail streaming behind it. 

I captured images of the comet, showing how its long tail was buffeted by systems around the Sun, offering scientists a unique way of observing movement as if they’d orchestrated the experiment themselves. Since comet tails have ionized gases, they are also affected by the Sun’s magnetic field, and can act as tracers of the complex magnetic system higher up in the atmosphere. Comets can also aid in the study of coronal mass ejections and the solar wind.”
Photo
ikenbot:

Earth at Night
This new global view of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite.
Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD
The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.
The image was made possible by the satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires and reflected moonlight.
The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.

ikenbot:

Earth at Night

This new global view of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite.

Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD

The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

The image was made possible by the satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires and reflected moonlight.

The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.

(Source: afro-dominicano, via scinerds)

Photoset
Photo
fyeahuniverse:

Gibbious Europa by the Galileo Spacecraft (x)

fyeahuniverse:

Gibbious Europa by the Galileo Spacecraft (x)

(Source: throughascientificlens)

Photoset

thescienceofreality:


Solar Eclipse, Ending (NASA, Hinode, 01/07/11)

“On January 4, the Hinode satellite captured these breathtaking images of an annular solar eclipse. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon, slightly more distant from Earth than on average, moves directly between Earth and the sun, thus appearing slightly smaller to observers’ eyes; the effect is a bright ring, or annulus of sunlight, around the silhouette of the moon. Hinode, a Japanese mission in partnership with NASA, NAOJ, STFC, ESA, and NSC, currently in Earth orbit, is studying the Sun to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that power the solar atmosphere and drive solar eruptions….”

Image credit: NASA

View original image/caption: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hinode/annular_eclipse110107.html

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