Why do I Draw Women of Color as STEM Professionals?
Despite a recent increase in STEM degrees earned by underrepresented individuals, the representation of women of color in the workplace is lower when compared to their representation in the population (https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd). While an online search for images of a "scientist" will display somewhat diverse results, images of Black women and women of color in STEM are overwhelmingly underrepresented. Moreover, their representation is almost non-existent for online searches in specific fields, like ecology and geology. In response to the lack of images of Black women and women of color in STEM, I make art to overrepresent them.
For me, it is important to represent women in STEM because you cannot be what you cannot see. Now, I do not mean that by making images of women in STEM I am pushing these careers to young girls. Rather, they serve as options for what is possible. Personally, when I am interested in something, be it a movie, a song, or even my passion for diversity, it is because I recognized a bit of my identity in it. I like to relax and laugh a lot, so I mostly watch comedies. I like to dance, so I like fast-paced loud music. I am a Latina in STEM, so I work to amplify our presence. It was the same as I made my decision on what profession to pursue. I had my mother’s image as a role model to follow. But, I recognize that not everyone has a person or an image they can identify and follow. Knowing there are women currently working and being successful in all STEM fields sends a message of possibilities and empowerment. This is also true for the women who currently work these fields. For them, images of women in STEM send a message of inclusiveness. Ultimately, creating images of women in STEM sends a message of belonging. In summary, representation matters.