Racial and Gender Inequality, Tech and Higher Ed

To mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I spoke to Regional Diversity Coordinator (Europe) for the Fulbright Program, Susanne Hamscha, on Fulbright Forward – A Diversity Podcast. We talked about the intersection of race and gender in (higher) education, technology as a tool for achieving equality, and the underrepresentation of women of color in higher education in the UK. Having held a US Fulbright research grant (2013) to complete my PhD fieldwork in Kenya, I jumped at the chance to join the conversation with an organisation I hold so close to my heart. What follows is some of the highlights of the things we discussed during the podcast episode.

To start with some good news – within the US, Black women are the most educated among the populace. The converse side of that, of course, is that they are the most burdened by student debt. Having to prove yourself at every turn, to stop people being able to say “no, you can’t do it”, has driven many Black women like myself to further heights in education.

We have this education, we have this talent, and with that comes a financial burden but beyond that there’s also this expectation pretty much of perfection. Within my career I’ve noticed where peers who were not Black and who were not women were given this grace to make mistakes and “fail upwards” as the tech industry likes to say. And yet Black women are not given this same grace. You could write a book about the examples of differentiation that people say is just “unconscious bias”, which is something I’ve been pushing back against for years. There is no such thing as unconscious bias.

Listen to the full discussion on Spotify here.

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