It’s no secret that Eastern Michigan University is a school of predominantly white students. Over 63 percent of the student population at EMU is white. If you randomly chose ten students in the school, about six of those students would probably be white. In all honesty, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being white. Like people of color, white people do not decide what race they are. However, because of learned racism in our society, many students of color miss out on opportunities here. Because women are already less likely to go into STEM fields than men are and students of color are far less likely to pursue degrees at all, and normally will not pursue the same volume of STEM degrees as white people, these two factors should play an important role into why Eastern Michigan University takes special care to encourage young women of color to pursue degrees in STEM fields.
STEM is an increasingly growing field producing hundreds of jobs every year that need to be filled. These jobs are not just professorships, but working with computers, going into medicine, doing research and even more. The problem is that not all of these jobs have people with the appropriate skill sets to fill them leaving college students with degrees without jobs and companies that want to hire people without. However, when we train more people to go out into STEM fields and work, people have jobs, companies have employees, the economy functions well and everyone is happy. Women of color, like all other people, want to participate in the economy and want to be able to make money and do what is good for themselves and their families. However, because of the fact that from very early on they may not be encouraged to pursue degrees in STEM, due to their sex as well as their race, by the time they set foot onto a college campus, many of them may not even be prepared to get a degree in STEM.
With all of this information, there are definitely things the university can and should do to stop the perpetuation of women of color being out from the beginning. First, the university can encourage its women to pursue degrees in science. As a woman in biology, I have many women role models concerning. However, it is rare that I see other African American students in my science class. I look around sometimes and think “Wow, I am the only black person here.” In terms of my professors, I have no role models with regard to my race. The university can, however, reach out to professionals in the fields of science and mathematics and ask them as people of color to come speak about their experiences and inspire the students of color on campus, especially the young women who may already be out by the time they have come and started college at Eastern.
STEM is a beautiful field. As a biology major and chemistry minor, the subjects I study challenge and interest me. They encourage me to use my brain and to see the world around me differently. I know this curiosity is not simply unique to me and I know other women of color should know their opportunities.