Black Americans make up just 6 percent of the life sciences workforce, and slightly under half (48 percent) of those professionals are women. Although higher education institutions have begun granting more science, technology, engineering, and math degrees, the number of women or people of color in the marine science industry lags still behind other groups. To help change that, Spelman, the historically Black women’s college, and OceanX, an exploration nonprofit, are allowing students to spend weeks at sea with experts of color on the research vessel OceanXplorer.
“It’s not that Spelman students can’t be marine biologists or that the opportunity for marine biology doesn’t exist,” Dr. Jerry Volcy, director of the Spelman Innovation Lab told the 19th News. “The challenge is that Spelman students typically don’t envision themselves as marine biologists because they’ve never seen a marine biologist who looks like them. So the idea of being a marine biologist is not even on the radar. It’s not even under consideration.”
Mattie Rodrigue, OceanX’s science program lead, described the partnership as one that is trying to reach communities on the front lines of climate change and expose them to scientific research through media and education channels. They believe the more people know about the ocean, the more likely they will be to conserve, protect and sustain it. (The 19th News)