Published April 1, 2022
The experience of Black and brown students in STEM fields, and how to improve it, is the focus of a workshop and lecture on April 7 at UB by Ebony Omotola McGee, author of “Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation.”
The event, open to UB STEM faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, will begin at noon in 228 Student Union, North Campus. Food will be available. The event will also be available virtually. Register online.
The event is sponsored by the Office of Research and Graduate Education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Office of STEM Diversity Programs; the Office of Inclusive Excellence; the Women in STEM Cooperative; and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate.
“These partnerships show our commitment to foster collaborative efforts across UB focused on training our community on inclusive mentoring practices,” says Anyango Kamina, assistant dean for student development and academic enhancement in the Jacobs School.
McGee, associate professor of diversity and STEM education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, will give her talk, titled “The Impact of Racialized Bias on Academic Success in STEM,” at 12:30 p.m. It will be followed by a faculty workshop on “Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Structural Inclusion in STEM Courses and the Case for Afrofuturism.” The first 25 registrants for the workshop will receive a free copy of McGee’s book.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to host Dr. McGee at UB,” says Letitia Thomas, assistant dean for diversity in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Her work is parenthetical to our mission to improve the diversity and retention within our academic units and throughout the university by removing the barriers to success in STEM careers for students of color.
“We believe this collaborative effort between engineering, arts and sciences, the Jacobs School and the Graduate School/postdoc office is necessary to dismantle the systemic barriers to success in STEM for underrepresented students,” Thomas continues. “If Dr. McGee can help our faculty understand marginalizing barriers — both overt and implicit — that prevent student success, the workshop will have been a success.”
Luis Colón, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and associate dean for inclusive excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, says the event will also be “instrumental in fostering an environment that encourages traditionally marginalized students to become engaged and feel part of a welcoming academic system, which in turn can encourage them to consider careers in academia.”
McGee, who trained as an engineer and worked in the private sector before switching to academia and earning a doctorate in mathematics education, is renowned for her scholarship into how racialized experiences and racial stereotypes adversely affect the education and career trajectories of underrepresented groups of color.
Motivated by her experiences in the private sector as a Black woman engineer, she has led research into the impact of marginalization on students in STEM fields. She was awarded a NSF CAREER grant to investigate how marginalization undercuts success in STEM through psychological stress, by interrupting STEM career trajectories, by triggering impostor phenomenon and through other race-related traumas that become debilitating for Black, Indigenous and Latinx doctoral students.
She co-founded the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative and the Institute in Critical Quantitative and Mixed Methodologies Training for Underrepresented Scholars (ICQCM), which develops quantitative and mixed-method skillsets that challenge simplistic quantifications of race and marginalization. ICQCM was founded with support from the NSF, the Spencer Foundation and the W. T. Grant Foundation.
McGee also is lead editor of Diversifying STEM: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Race and Gender (2019), which covers race, culture and social stratification; racial justice and identity; racial socialization processes; and race and gender intersectionality in STEM.