Interrogating Structural Racism in STEM Higher Education

McGee, Ebony Omotola
Educational researcher

The racialized structure of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) higher education maintains gross inequities that are illustrative of structural racism, which both informs and is reinforced by discriminatory beliefs, policies, values, and distribution of resources. Thus, an examination into structural racism in STEM is needed to expose the marginalization of underrepresented groups in STEM and to improve understanding of the STEM policies, practices, and procedures that allow the foundation of racism to remain intact. I argue that, even at the top of the education hierarchy, Black STEM doctorate students and PhD degree holders consistently endure the racist residue of higher education institutions and STEM employers. Thus, this manuscript also discusses how universities institutionalize diversity mentoring programs designed mostly to fix (read “assimilate”) underrepresented students of color while ignoring or minimizing the role of the STEM departments in creating racially hostile work and educational spaces. I argue that, without a critical examination of the structural racism omnipresent in the STEM, progress in racially diversifying STEM will continue at a snail’s pace.