Sistas In Science

***The Champ’s latest at Ebony profiles four Black women who happen to be close friends…and all happen to have PhDs in STEM fields. (VSB vets should recognize at least one of them)***

Four Black women. All friends. And, all granted PhDs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields before reaching 30.

What sounds the premise for an urban fairy tale has been the reality for Jessica Porter, 29, Marguerite Matthews, 29, Dahlia Haynes, 31, and Racquel Jemison, 27—a reality made even more unlikely when reading statistics about Black people and STEM PhDs.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black people are 12% of the U.S. population and 11% of all students beyond high school, yet they received just 7% of all STEM bachelor’s degrees, 4% of master’s degrees, and 2% of PhDs. And, out of 5,048 PhDs awarded in the physical sciences, such as chemistry and physics, 89 went to Blacks—a number that gets even smaller when removing Black men.

Yet, Porter (a Boston native and current senior sensory scientist at Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati) met Matthews (who matriculated at Spelman and is currently doing a post-doc at the University of Portland) in 2006 while both enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh’s neuroscience PhD program. In 2010, they met Jemison, a Morgan State grad and doctoral student at nearby Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) who will receive a PhD in chemistry this fall. A couple months later, Jemison introduced them to Haynes, a post-doctoral research associate at CMU who received her PhD in chemistry at Clemson University.

The ladies soon grew close, forming the nexus for a “crew” of grad students and young professionals who migrated to the Pittsburgh-area for work or school. recently had the opportunity to sit down with them and discuss Black women in science, the importance of early STEM education, and the value of having a strong network of friends.

EBONY: Cases such as the one with Kiera Wilmot reinforce the idea that, from a lack of administrative support to Black students not given the same allowances other students are to experiment, there may be substantial social and institutional barriers preventing Black women from entering and excelling in science-based fields. Do you agree with this assessment?

Dahlia Haynes: This question reads unclear. I am not aware of this case but what allowances are we as Black women not getting? I, for one, have received great institutional support to excel in science based fields. I do believe however that it is because of the (White) people I had around me who were heavily invested in diversity. Socially, unfortunately is that there remains very few of “my people” in the STEM fields. This starts from an early age however. Where I’m from in particular, the only successful careers that were popularly known were the “Huxtables” (medical doctor or lawyer). To overcome this, being scientists has to become socially more acceptable at younger ages.

Marguerite Matthews: I don’t think there are barriers preventing Black students from going into or excelling in the sciences, per se. But I do think there is a lack of support, encouragement, and proper education for many Black students – especially those coming from more disadvantaged economic backgrounds. Similar to Dahlia, I had teachers who pushed me into STEM opportunities, which inspired me to pursue science in higher education and as a career. Exposure to these opportunities, and feeling empowered to thrive in the sciences, has made a world of difference. Unfortunately in the case of Kiera Wilmot, the stereotype that Black kids are thought of as criminals first, not scientists, is being reinforced. This type of experience – being faced with criminal charges – may totally deter her from pursuing science in the future. And while this likely isn’t the case for all Black children, it highlights that society often does not value Black children, even those who are proven to be good students, as future innovators and intellectuals.

Jessica Porter: I do not think that there are barriers preventing Black women from entering or excelling in science based fields any more than there are barriers for White women. Science remains to be a male dominated field so the issues from my experience have had to do more with being a woman than being Black. In addition, as  a Black woman, we check two boxes, which tend to be very important for funding especially at a time when scientific funding is being cut. I don’t want to think that the reason I received funding was because I was Black, but being Black did help. In most science fields, the government or non-profit organizations pay for higher education through grant funding, thus eliminating the barrier and making a scientific education cheaper and easier to pursue.

Racquel Jemison: I think I’m more inclined to agree with Marge.  There isn’t enough support for our young Black students to pursue interests in the sciences.  It’s primarily those few heavily involved teachers or mentors that encourage early exposure to the sciences, and quite frankly, there aren’t enough of them.

Read more at EBONY

More People?: Random And Made Up Relationship Statistics That Are Indisputable

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey...those stats are gay.

The old saying goes that 87 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot. And I agree. Mostly because I can’t disagree since, well, I’ll make up a statistic on the spot and I like the number 87. It rolls off the tongue.

Kind of like, Mufasa.

Or, “I’m Ray J. Fab is a b*tch a** broke a** ninja and I’m going to make him personally call up to your radion station and apologize for being a broke a** ninja.”

That Willie Norwood, Jr…what a card.

If ever there was a time where “we don’t believe you, you need more people” was appropos, this is it.

Anyway, over the course of history, or at least since 2009, lots of relationship statistics have been bandied about. And despite the fact that a large percentage of them have no actual basis whatsoever or the source is at the very least untraceable (word to Magic Johnson), nobody seems to take any umbrage with using them. Honestly, the only stat I truly remember is the whole 42% of Black women have never been married. Or never will be married. Or will have to marry Antonio Banderas or Soulja Boy. It’s something like that. Forgive my memory. Apparently I don’t remember it.

Well, since we here at VSB are scientists of the highest order – I’ve got an OPP, a DN, and an HNIC degree – I figured that I’d bring some of this astute science that I’ve been working on for years. Unbeknownst to most people, I’ve commissioned no less than seven independent Congressional reports to look into relationships. Here are my results. Dispute them if you’d like, but I don’t think that you can.

67% of all women hope that their man is being faithful but want to catch him cheating

While most women are optimists, they’re also masochists. It’s an internal struggle that only Victor Ortiz can truly appreciate. Protect yourself at all times, even when you’re wearing a condom. <—that made more sense in my head. And no, Virginia, that’s not a pun. Actually it is. But I didn’t mean for it to be a pun. It was an accident.

94% percent of men pray to God that they don’t fall in love with a stripper

Black people and Republicans are amazingly conservative and let’s just be real, there’s no good way to tell the “meeting” story if you met your girl at the strip club and JUST HAD to get her number after. Point is, our mamas will not approve. Well, unless our mother is Loretta Devine because depending on the movie she’s either dead, smanging Gregory Hines (he dead too) or running numbers in Harlem. She really gets around.

In 2011, an equal percentage of men and women have dated: a woman who’s never cooked him a meal and a man who’s asked to borrow her blouse, respectively

My statisticians have indicated to me that there’s a wide variance between the various groups and that the percentage hovers between 20 and 37 percent. However, it’s possible that one woman dated Kanye West 2,000 times and just didn’t know it. He has lots of sunglasses. And he learned to dance ballet sarcastically.

In an odd twist…

13% of women swear to never having engaged in fellatio and a similar 13% of women also claimed to be “unable to keep a man”

I ran a regression to see if there was any correlation there but my results came back insignificant. But if you ask me, I think there’s a “there” there.

In similar fashion…99% of all men claimed to like going down on their women as long as I agreed to not tell their women

Apparently there’s been an outbreak of neck plantar fasciitis that these men swear is directly related to tasting the rainbow. Then again, 74 percent of these men believed in the Illuminati and Blood Oaths and one guy asked me to babysit his kid, so ya know, do with that what you will.

10% of men admitted to enjoying WEtv programming and having opinions about both “What Not To Wear” and “Say Yes To The Dress”

When I garrishly asked them what a WEtv was, they informed me that I work for them. Twoshay, my ninja. Twoshay. Some of them dresses are nice though.

100% of all women admitted to intentionally disrupting a man in the middle of a football game he really wanted to watch because she felt like it at least once

When queried with a follow as to any other possible reason to disrupt his game watching, 87 percent of the responses came back with, “it’s just a game and I have the *CENSORED*, he’ll be alright.”

Not to be outdone by their female counterparts…

100% of all men admitted to not being where they said they were going to be when they said they were going to be there at least once

When queried as to how that could possibly happen, all men responded similarly with: “I left the first place.”

Well alright.

I’ve got more, but truthfully, like those looking for Nikki, y’all ain’t ready y’all ain’t ready. (That’s for all my ATLiens).

Disputes? Doubtful.

But I know you’ve got some stats of your own to share. So VSB, what are some other random and made up relationship statistics that are indisputable?


Quiet Is As Kept: How Video Hoes And Hoodrats Get In The Way of Sound Theory and Science

When The Levee Breaks

“Treat someone like an object, and they’ll behave like one.”

The objectification of women is a problem in current pop culture. For years, women have been used as mere visual trinkets intended to make men look more virile in videos. In song, women are usually relegated to derogatory and derisive terms like b*tch, ho, slut, Lil Kim, etc. As the objectification continues, the thought is that the men of tomorrow will view women less and less as equal partners and more as property and possessions to be owned and commanded. A recent study conducted by Tamar Saguy discovered this:

Leading a team of Israeli and US psychologists, she has shown that women become more silent if they think that men are focusing on their bodies. They showed that women who were asked to introduce themselves to an anonymous male partner spent far less time talking about themselves if they believed that their bodies were being checked out. Men had no such problem. Nor, for that matter, did women if they thought they were being inspected by another woman.

It stands to reason that as women feel objectified, they reveal less about themselves. To wit:

Saguy’s study is one of the first to provide evidence of the social harms of sexual objectification – the act of treating people as “de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities”. It targets women more often than men. It’s apparent in magazine covers showing a woman in a sexually enticing pose, in inappropriate comments about a colleague’s appearance, and in unsolicited looks at body parts.

Wow, that is tragic. And I’d buy it lock, stock, and barrel except…

…video hoes and hoodrats seem to have not gotten the memo. In the past three years, more video hoes have started spilling the beans on their trysts and triumphs, have hit the circuits to talk about how it feels to be objectified, and they seem to love it. Hell, very few even take issue with being called video hoes.

Okay, I have no proof to back that one up but like Chris Rock said, if you show up to work wearing a hoes uniform, you can’t be mad when somebody treats you like one. An entire cottage industry has grown out of video hoes making a name for themselves in entertainment. Think about it, mainstream America actually knows the NAMES of quite a few of them now.

Where dey do dat at?!!!?!?!?

Oh yeah, Oprah.


From Superhead to Angel Lola Luv to Melyssa Ford, even to the Paris Hilton’s and Kim Kardashian’s of the world, reality TV and the public’s insatiable desire for gossip and non-sense, video hoes and women famous for their sexual (de) merits have caused objectified women to share more pieces of themselves than Jenna Jameson. Now, of course this study was done with women who didn’t know their male counterpart and when they felt the man was solely focusing on their assets, they spoke up less. So it’s not really an apples to oranges comparison. However, video hoes on the other hand have created an entire life out of exhibitionism and won’t stop yapping. The game is to be sold, not to be told, but they won’t shut their traps, flying directly in the face of this study.

And well, hoodrats, they just don’t stop yapping anyway and loves them some objectification. Use it or lose it. Though ironically, I’ve heard quite a few successful and professional women indicate that they realized the values their bodies had and that while it was still how they liked it, they would do best to benefit from the attention they received.

Now, I realize that a video ho is probably more prone to attention whoring given her desire to share her assets to the world for as many to see as possible anyway, so once again, apples and hand grenades, but I’m sure there is an entire segment of the population out there that not only relish the opportunity to speak more because of their assets, they look for opportunities to do so, and perhaps weren’t captured in the expansive 207 person study. The fact that they’re students doesn’t help either since they probably read and reading makes one more conservative.

So says Panama anyway.

Plus, when you factor that the reason for less personal revelation is because half of the women probably were saying, “I’m up here, thank you…so I’m a Scor…ah ah…focus…” After a while you just stop trying and exchange numbers so you can talk that way.

Note that men don’t care one way or another. Testosterone win.

Anyway, ladies do you tend to speak less when you feel objectified and how objectified do you feel on a daily basis? Further, to the guys, do you ever really just stare at a chicks boobs when trying to holler at her? It seems like it would be counterproductive to procuring the digits or BB PIN number?

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