The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science: Dr. Shirley Malcom Reflects on 44 Years of The Double Bind

October 20, 2020

In this American Women's History Initiative (AWHI) panel, Dr. Shirley Malcom, Senior Advisor and Director of SEA Change at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, talks with three educators from the Smithsonian--Under Secretary for Education, Ruki Neuhold-Ravikumar, Katrina Lashley, Program Coordinator at the Anacostia Community Museum, and Carol O'Donnell, Director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center--about Dr. Malcom’s seminal 1976 report, The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science, 44 years after its publication. In the report, Dr. Malcom and her co-authors argued that the struggles to be scientists were greater for women of color than for white women or for men of color. The persistently low numbers of women of color in STEM in 2020 support this claim, and the limited number of teachers of color in STEM education (less than 1 teacher of color for every 50 students of color) perpetuate this disparity. Yet, despite progress in graduating more women of color in STEM fields, women of color continue to be underrepresented at the advanced levels in most STEM fields and do not persist in these positions for a variety of factors (Pew Research, 2018). This panel addresses question such as: What barriers existed for women of color in science when Dr. Malcom first authored her report 44 years ago? What barriers still exist today? What progress have we made? What tools and methods can educators and science writers like AAAS use to reach new audiences and inspire the next generation of women in STEM?

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