Stereotyping in the United States

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By Anna Salomon Pasapera

Copy Edited by: Lizbeth Yorio and Dominique Croons

Research Edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

The issue of racism and prejudice is an increasing issue in the United States. The U.S. is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and it is important that we treat everyone as equals, regardless of race or ethnicity. Throughout history, Latinos in America have been portrayed as criminals, unintelligent, lazy workers, and illegal by the media. Now, this has stretched to drug dealers and rapists. The impacts that stereotypes and prejudice have against Hispanics are huge and can vary from something as vast as creating international conflict, to loss of employment and depression for the victims of the discrimination.

Not All Stereotypes Are Bad?

Some people argue that not all stereotypes are bad. However, those who make this argument most likely have never experienced discrimination themselves or, have never had any direct involvement with it. In this country, that category consists of mostly white males or, those in the upper class, and sometimes politicians. There are times when stereotypes are used to put people into a category; according to an article by Heidi Burgess, the groups they belong to are used to help people make educated inferences about how those people will behave based on their grouping.[1] Making these inferences can be helpful in human interaction. Generalizations about a group can aid people in determining what kind of behavior is appropriate or not with certain groups. Stereotypes can be seen as a good thing as long as they are accurate, it is when they are incorrect that they tend to be a problem.

The more common argument is that stereotypes are unacceptable at all times. According to the article “Impact Of Latino Stereotypes: Latin Americans Viewed Most Negatively In Immigrant Comparison Study” by Sarah Gates from the Huffington Post, Latino stereotypes can have a significantly negative impact on the way people view immigration.[2] Discriminating against others because of their race can be very disrespectful and hurtful regardless of the purpose. Whether a stereotypical statement is offensive or not should be up to the group being patronized. Most of the time these groups find these comments insulting and demeaning. According to the Migration Policy Institute, stereotypes can cost people their jobs, and consequently their homes and opportunities at a successful life. This opinion is held mostly by the more liberal population and those who have experienced discrimination first hand.

My Side

As someone who has experienced discrimination multiple times throughout my life, I stand behind the argument that stereotypes are never ok. Although they may have good intentions, and are not trying to be negative, I think that any form of classifying people is not right, especially if we are trying to be a country that promotes equality. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority groups in the US, and deserve to be treated as a part of this country being that they will soon make up a significant chunk of the population. Any type of grouping can be hurtful to people, even if it isn’t negative. Nobody should be able to tell other people what group they belong to, or to make generalizations about them. More often than not, stereotypes are found to be degrading and can cause more harm than good.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that prejudice against any group, in this case Latinos, is inappropriate and should be addressed immediately. Like Judith Cofer Ortiz said in her well written personal essay, “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria”, “I hope the stories I tell, the dreams and fears I examine in my work, can achieve some universal truth which will get my audience past the particulars of my skin color, my accent, or my clothes.”[3] Cofer, like many Latinos, agrees that we are more than just a skin color, and she claims that the only way to change people’s divisive perceptions, is to replace these ideals with a “set of realities”. Abolishing stereotypes in this country should be of top priority due to the large amount of diversity. I think that it is important for this nation, as well as for individual citizens, to act as one to be successful.

There Are Virtually NO African-American Women in STEM: And Here’s Why

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By: Ariana Bailey

Copy edited by: Amanda Hirsch and Maggie McPherson

Research edited by: Sean Cotnam

Format edited by: Arthur Carlton-Jones

Working in STEM allows you to figure out ways to enhance the future of technology and medicine. The field is also known to be financially stable with low unemployment rates. STEM is a field that provides the perfect combination of practicality and innovation. Other fields of work usually can only provide one or the other.

That’s why I decided to major in animal biotechnology when I enrolled in college. I knew that this major wasn’t a popular choice. However, when I sat down with my academic advisor and learned that you could count the number of black girls with the same major on one hand, it’s safe to say I was quite surprised. It wasn’t just my major that had an extremely small amount of black female participation, this trend permeated throughout all fields of STEM and at all levels of higher education. The number dwindles even more when looking at the amount of women with higher-level positions in STEM jobs.

The Numbers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a survey conducted in 2014 on American college freshman who were attending 4-year universities and intended to major in science or engineering. Out of all the African American/black females who were surveyed, only 5% were planning on majoring in engineering and only 2% were planning on majoring in math or computer science. These percentages are pretty low in comparison to those of African American men, among which 14.6% were planning on majoring in engineering and 6.8% were planning on majoring in math or computer science.[1] Based off of this sizeable gap, it is clear that African American women are reluctant to pursue STEM at a college level.

The NSF also released data in 2016 showing that black women comprised 10% of all women who earned a bachelor’s in science or engineering[2] and 9% of all women who earned a masters in the same areas.[3] The proportion decreases significantly when looking at all women who have earned doctoral degrees in science or engineering, with black women comprising less than 3% of that population.[4] Black women with STEM doctorates also comprised less than 4% of all women with STEM doctorates in the STEM workforce.[5]

Why So Few?

I am an African-American woman who plans on having a successful career in biotechnology. When I retire and look back at all of my achievements, I want to be able to say that I not only changed the face of science and medicine, but also opened doors for other black women who wanted to do the same. But before I do that, I must understand what factors are causing so few black women to pursue STEM in the first place.

Of course, the first factor that comes to mind when determining how to be successful in STEM is educational attainment. However, in the case of black women in America, educational attainment truly isn’t the problem. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, African-American women are one of the most educated demographics in the United States. Between 2009 and 2010, black women earned 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees and 65 percent of all doctorates awarded to black students.[6] We can see that educational attainment isn’t the reason why black women aren’t moving forward in STEM, many other individual and environmental are at play here. I believe that the classroom and workplace environments are greatly implicated in the deficiency of black women in STEM.

The Culprit

Black woman are definitely tokens in the STEM field and will often be in environments where they are one of a kind, and much like any other environment with a major and minority population, stereotyping and discrimination are bound to occur. Stereotyping isn’t just stressful on a personal level, but can also implicate a person’s ability to establish the networks necessary for doing well in difficult classes or advancing to higher positions at work. Stereotyping can also cause the ideas of black woman to be overlooked in the classroom or workplace. Majority groups tend to over-scrutinize the behavior and performance of a token classmate or employee.[7] Being black and a woman in a white-male-dominated field like STEM can be extremely stressful because you are constantly trying to prove that you are just as knowledgeable and innovative as your co-workers or classmates, even though you are obviously qualified. The combined stress from a discriminatory workplace and a strenuous workload of STEM could cause any person to decide to pursue other endeavors.

It’s up to people like me, the of black women in STEM on campus and on the job, to speak up about tour personal discriminatory experiences, and promote an inclusive space for future black female scientists and engineers.