Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE) is intended to inspire Black women over 40, please tell our readers more about your mission.
The mission of BWISE is to support underrepresented women via networking, mentoring, and career development in their science, technology, engineering, math/medicine careers. The group consists of women with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math, even if they no longer work in these areas.
What opportunities do you see for minority women entrepreneurs in healthcare innovation?
With so many Black women with degrees and experience in the Life Sciences, the opportunities to create and run businesses focused on improving the health and well-being of people in our communities are enormous. Much of healthcare has ignored our demographic, and as a result, serious issues like diabetes and poor maternal health have devastated far too many of our families. We don’t just need leaders in healthcare and Big Pharma, but also women starting successful biotech and biomedical businesses.
You’ve come up with “Imposer Syndrome,” can you expand on what that means to you, and why you think the word “Imposter” does a disservice to women of color?
Imposer syndrome is when folks attempt to impose their negative critique of your talent, on you. It is their attempt to minimize and undercut someone’s (usually a women’s) self-confidence, so that they doubt their capabilities, despite their accomplishments.
Feeling like an imposter is nothing more than the acceptance of others’ negative beliefs of you, who do not know your journey or challenges. It is a false assumption that puts the onus on women, instead of the people who are actually responsible for this. Almost every week, there is another company in the news being sued for harassment and discrimination, and many workplaces are still not psychologically safe for women of color. Women would not feel like frauds if people didn’t tell us and treat us like we were.
What can you do to prepare yourself to facilitate successful fundraising?
We don’t do fundraising, per se, because we are actually providing a much-needed service (talent acquisition assistance) to businesses. However, we are absolutely open to receiving financial support from corporate Partners who are serious about being inclusive workplaces.
In addition, we keep our ears to the ground to stay abreast of these billion-dollar investments in places like Atlanta and Chicago in emerging industries, like biotech and artificial intelligence.
How can we get more Black women in STEM?
It’s simple, retain the ones that you have by developing and promoting them to leadership roles and support Black women launching STEM businesses.
Young people need to see people who look like them being successful to enter STEM, and folks already in STEM need to see these people so that they stay. Both are equally important.
How do Black women in STEM keep up the stamina for the road ahead?
Black women must be part of a supportive community to further their careers. You simply can not do this alone. Find people who are going to encourage you and look after you when you need physical and psychological rest.
For Black women in science and engineering who want to make an impact in healthcare, where do they start?
Take time to become laser-focused on what you’re “calling” is or what you can contribute to the most important issues in healthcare today. Perhaps this is based on something they have experienced personally, or maybe it’s in an area that they have already worked on in their careers. Do the research, make the connections, and then like Nike says, “Just Do It.”