Actions to Take to Support Black Students in STEM

After taking some time to reflect on what I, as a student leader in my school’s business/tech community, have done to support the Black community, I realized that I hadn’t done enough. The most significant advantage business and tech clubs at universities offer are opportunities from upper-year students, industry leaders, and companies to kick-start a career. Talented students get showcased through events on campus, but I can’t attest that there is always a diverse representation. More importantly, while opportunities exist, there are no comprehensive sites for BIPOC students to find these resources and access diversified mentorship. I hope to work with others to catalyze this change, starting with documenting opportunities and resources for Black students in STEM.

The Data Speaks the Truth

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Data shows the extremity of this issue. An OZY article states: Recent diversity reports from Twitter, Google, and Facebook found that less than 5% of the companies’ tech workers identify as Black. Inequalities that serve these low numbers start at school and continue into the workplace, due to factors such as racial bias and financial disparities that make opportunities inaccessible.
recent report by the National Academies of Science found that mentorship is crucial in expanding diversity in STEM. Companies, industry professionals, and universities must make an active effort to foster the development of diverse talent and to eliminate racism in their communities. Because, how can you aspire to be someone that you haven’t seen adequately represented in your school and industry?
I wanted to note that despite a tiresome search of Google and LinkedIn, I struggled to find many specific programs to support Black Canadian students. For this reason, I first discuss actions that you and others can take to bridge the gap. Then scroll down for a list of scholarships and resources for Black students in STEM.

How Can You Take Action To Support Black Students?

  • Educate yourself on the circumstances faced by Black professionals and students. Read stories shared by individuals. Reflect on whether you’ve witnessed these behaviors and how you reacted. One source is on Twitter under #Blackintheivory.
  • Reach out to students and offer mentorship. Whether you’re a successful student or industry professional, share a calendar link on your LinkedIn where Black students can sign up for career chats this summer. Offer to be a mentor for student development programs.
  • Look at your own workplace’s impact. Are your company’s products inadvertently discriminating against individuals by race? (Read this article from the LA Times for more insight on this topic).
  • Reflect on your company’s hiring practices. There is importance in having a diverse workplace. Is your hiring team diverse? How can you improve recruiting practices to promote diversity? Do you offer scholarships/programs to encourage underrepresented students to pursue STEM careers?
  • Donate to support organizations that facilitate programs and mentorship that work with Black and underrepresented STEM students. I added some links below.

Resources for Black Students

Scholarships

2020 Quip Diversity ScholarshipFor undergraduate, masters, or Ph.D. students in the U.S or Canada graduating in 2020 or later, and are pursuing a career in STEM. Winners: $5,000 and runner-ups: $1,000 towards their education. Due June 24th, 2020.
McKinsey Canada: Black Student Leadership Awardfor current undergrad/graduate students who self-identify as Black. Six-month mentorship and $2500. Due July 5th, 2020.
BBPA National Scholarships: A variety of scholarships to support academic excellence are available to Black Canadian students attending accredited universities/colleges who satisfy the eligibility criteria. Due July 12th, 2020.
2020 Telus Diversity in Technology ScholarshipStudents entering their final year of a bachelor’s degree or diploma program in the field of technology at a Canadian post-secondary institute. $5000, special events, and consultation with their recruitment team. Due July 31st, 2020.

Communities / Orgs

ColourStack: Mission to increase the entrance, retention, and success of Black and Latinx college students pursuing CS and CS-related majors.
Black Girls CODEThrough community outreach programs such as workshops and after school programs, they introduce underprivileged girls to fundamental programming skills. Donate here.
CodeNation: Equips students in under-resourced high schools with the skills, experiences, and connections that together create access to careers in technology. Donate here.
CodeCrewThey mentor underrepresented youth to be tech innovators and leaders through practical, hands-on computer science education programs throughout Memphis. Donate here.

Podcasts

Be The Code: Spotlights the most influential blacks in technology — from celebrities to financiers — and how they are reshaping the industry, with their unique perspectives.
Blk + In Grad School: A podcast created to encourage and inspire people of color to and through grad school.
STEM podcasts produced by Black individuals: List of podcasts (creds: Carry the One Radio)