Diversity Matters

The Power of People of Color in STEM

People of color are essential in the continued achievement of the scientific community.

Higher education plays a critical role in addressing the lack of diversity in the scientific community. Unsplash

Furman’s emphasis on performing research during undergraduate education reveals the university’s desire to see its students emerge with competitive resumes as they enter the STEM world. However, fields of research are largely dependent on the upbringing and culture of the scientist, as individuals are likely to research areas that are personally meaningful to them. Research shows that members of minority communities in the field of science are more likely to conduct research related to the well-being of those minority communities than non-minority scientists.

Underrepresented scientists will be the ones to help their respective communities, which have been largely unaided by the majority of the science community. In order for the scientific community to broaden its future impact, it needs scientists equipped with the foresight and understanding to undertake research expeditions in underserved areas. They need to be aware of diverse worldviews and problems affecting all people. This cultural knowledge allows for greater dissemination of information and aid across a more diverse group of communities. The future of science includes people of color as a key component of continued achievement; consequently, the lack of diversity in the scientific community must be addressed through increased representation and opportunities for students of color at universities like Furman all around the world.

The combination of underserved communities and the broader scientific community will aid all people involved; underrepresented scientists get more recognition for their important research and scientific knowledge is expanded. Scientists of color are then necessary because research participants find assurance in their presence. The established understanding between both parties overthrows any suspicion or doubt of the moral integrity of the scientists. From a historical standpoint, many members of the African American community have been experimented on by white scientists, a major incidence being the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This manipulation of unwilling test subjects continues to echo shamefully as the scientific community reckons with its own dark past. Increasing the presence of underrepresented scientists in the community is a preventative measure that can aid in the decrease of ethical violations. Furthermore, these scientists can increase the impact of data collection by encouraging more diverse participants to engage in studies.

One final benefit of increasing the representation of minorities in the scientific community is related to public health. Many unstudied diseases have been ignored by the scientific community because they primarily affect minority communities. Representation through scientists of color would give these communities a voice to call attention to previously overlooked or under-researched problems. As a result of increasing research in those underserved communities, national health demographics can significantly improve. Providing pivotal data to public health liaisons can create an avenue of essential resources for those underserved communities. By decreasing the knowledge gap on community-specific diseases, not only do those communities improve, but also the nation and the world. Our genesis as a species links all members of the human population to one another. While we all have our genetic variations, we are all impacted by the well-being of all human populations around the globe. By increasing the number of advocates of minority communities in the science community, underrepresented scientists can help restore a balance of knowledge in the realm of global public health and increase the fitness of future human populations.

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