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#BlackInAstro: Black Women in Astronomy and Physics

25 Jun 2020, 19:46 UTC
#BlackInAstro: Black Women in Astronomy and Physics
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This post is part of our series #BlackInAstro. For our cornerstone post, see here. This week, we will be posting a #BlackInAstro story every day for #BlackInAstroWeek. In this installment, we look at the underrepresentation of Black women in astro/physics, and summarize two papers that examine the obstacles these physicists face, the strategies they employ to overcome them, and how departments can support Black women physicists.There are fewer than 100 Black women with PhDs in physics. Only 22 Black women hold PhDs in astronomy or related fields. (You can see many of their names on the African American Women in Physics website.) As we celebrate these physicists and their contributions to the field, we also need to understand why there are so few Black women in physics and astronomy, and their experiences in the field.Black women hold a marginalized identity along the axes of both race and gender, and this intersection of oppressions manifests differently than each on its own. This is at the core of intersectionality, and is encapsulated by a quote from Dr. Evelynn Hammonds, the former Dean of Harvard College and scholar on the History of Science, who received her Bachelor’s in physics: “[Race and gender] aren’t ...

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