The sciences have an unfortunate trend throughout history of favoring white men and their research and discoveries. Many significant research projects and discoveries made over the course of history were not credited if discovered by women or minorities. Today, many are working to bring positive change to the sciences and increase diversity in the field.
On Monday, March 8th, Marine Science and Biology students were invited to attend a “MARS Café,” a social networking event over Zoom. Organized by staff in the Marine Science program, this Café featured guest speaker Jasmin Graham.
Graham is a shark biologist and co-founder of Minorities in Shark Science, or MISS. As a black woman, she faced many challenges in reaching her position in a predominantly white male field. Among other things, she spoke of attending a shark research conference, and despite there being hundreds in attendance, she was the only black person there.
Graham talked about how discouraging it was to pursue her passions in a field where she felt like she didn’t belong. These hardships inspired her to help co-found MISS to provide a supportive environment that would help encourage and guide other minorities with aspirations to study shark biology.
A shockingly low percentage of shark biologist are represented by minorities and her organization is working to change that. By also providing a supportive environment to those preparing to or actively studying shark science, it helps bring a sense of community and shared experiences. Additionally, the organization leads initiatives to help encourage participants of more diverse backgrounds to get involved.
“If you find yourself looking for ways to increase diversity,” said Graham, “go to the parts of town people tell you not to go to. You’ll find that many of them are great people with their interest ready to be sparked.”
This presentation was very meaningful to attend. The message was powerful and showcased a side of science that is not always seen. Through hearing stories shared by minorities in scientific fields, a message of hope and determination was highlighted. More effort to engage minorities in the sciences is the key to ensuring an increase in diversity in scientific fields. Allowing people of all backgrounds to have a voice and the ability to contribute is what is needed. A young organization, MISS grows everyday. It is the responsibility of all in the sciences to help promote diversity and provide a welcoming environment for scientists and those studying to become scientists.