trapped in a nowhere zone working as a cashier. It was considered a good job. Once in college, I learned about NOBCChE, and it has made the difference for me to learn about other women and men who want to become faculty members, scientists. Now that I have a large NOBCChE family, I feel like I can call on a brother or sister to help guide me. And I do. The NOBCChE network is indispensable. It is ‘ginormous’ in its impact.” V. G., BS, MS, NOBCChE Member
“Although some of my leaders have good intentions, there have been times when my abilities are questioned when my peers are not. I may have done a very thorough explanation, but I am drilled to the ninth degree, whilst my White, male colleague was not drilled as toughly.
“In addition, the quality of my work was far above his. With the same White male colleague, during one troubleshooting session, I suggested a path forward for a particular problem. My comment and I were ignored. But, five minutes later, the White male said the exact same thing and he was almost given a standing ovation. I am not a soft-spoken female nor a very brusque woman, however, they chose to ignore what I had to say. Many times, since, I have been made to feel as though I am invisible. I see that as their problem, not mine. If I didn’t, then I would go insane.
“Once in a discussion with a female associate about permanent make-up, a male co-worker told me that I “should get some of those big plates for my lips and put permanent lipstick on those babies.” I was appalled as his comments were directed at me. I mentioned this inappropriate comment to my supervisor, a White male. He said that I was being too sensitive. So, I am cognizant to ensure that I do not internalize such comments. I have done no wrong although I am made to feel badly.” S. B. PhD, MBA/HRM, NOBCChE Leader
At a recent NOBCChE leadership conference, students and early career professionals raised the question of appropriate appearance for a professional. Since African American women have very different hair and skin types compared to those of their Caucasian counterparts, the hairstyles and the products they use are not the same. It is a significant challenge for a new graduate or young professional to find a fashion style that they feel comfortable wearing and yet that is acceptable to the conventional scientific community. As a final challenge, the minority woman scientist who moves to a new community may find it difficult to find a hairdresser who can manage her hair, and she may not be able to purchase at a local store the products she is used to using in her home community.
Women in general have always juggled their academic and professional activities and the responsibilities and expectations they have as mothers and wives. For African American women, this challenge is even greater because African American culture is matriarchal in nature and typically expects women to contribute the major portion of care to the children and the home. This challenge is even more difficult for the woman who is raising her children as a single mother.