Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized Stem Education Stifles Innovation (Paperback)
2022 PROSE Award Finalist Drawing on narratives from hundreds of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals, Ebony Omotola McGee examines the experiences of underrepresented racially minoritized students and faculty members who have succeeded in STEM. Based on this extensive research, McGee advocates for structural and institutional changes to address racial discrimination, stereotyping, and hostile environments in an effort to make the field more inclusive. Black, Brown, Bruised reveals the challenges that underrepresented racially minoritized students confront in order to succeed in these exclusive, usually all-White, academic and professional realms. The book provides searing accounts of racism inscribed on campus, in the lab, and on the job, and portrays learning and work environments as arenas rife with racial stereotyping, conscious and unconscious bias, and micro-aggressions. As a result, many students experience the effects of a racial battle fatigue--physical and mental exhaustion borne of their hostile learning and work environments--leading them to abandon STEM fields entirely. McGee offers policies and practices that must be implemented to ensure that STEM education and employment become more inclusive including internships, mentoring opportunities, and curricular offerings. Such structural changes are imperative if we are to reverse the negative effects of racialized STEM and unlock the potential of all students to drive technological innovation and power the economy.
As an associate professor of diversity and STEM education at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, I investigate what it means to be racially marginalized while minoritized in the context of learning and achieving in STEM higher education and in the STEM professions. I study in particular the racialized experiences and racial stereotypes that adversely affect the education and career trajectories of underrepresented groups of color. This involves exploring the social, material, and health costs of academic achievement and problematizing traditional forms of success in higher education, with an unapologetic focus on Black folk in these places and spaces. My National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER grant investigates how marginalization undercuts success in STEM through psychological stress, interrupted STEM career trajectories, impostor phenomenon, and other debilitating race-related trauma for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx doctoral students. Education is my second career; I left a career in electrical engineering to earn a PhD in mathematics education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago, and a NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University. I cofounded the Explorations in Diversifying Engineering Faculty Initiative or EDEFI (pronounced "edify," https: //blackengineeringphd.org/ ). I also cofounded the Institute in Critical Quantitative and Mixed Methodologies Training for Underrepresented Scholars (ICQCM), which aims to be a go-to resource for the development of quantitative and mixed-methods skillsets that challenge simplistic quantifications of race and marginalization (http: //criticalscholars4quantresearch.org/). ICQCM receives support from the NSF, the Spencer Foundation, and the W. T. Grant Foundation. My research has been featured in prominent media outlets, including The Atlantic, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, NPR's Codeswitch, The Hechinger Report, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, US News & World Report, Inside Higher Education, Tennessean, and The UK Voice Online.