Underrepresented minority groups in science


By Iridian Casarez

HSU science professors and staff organized an event last Saturday, March 4, dubbed “You belong here!” Created for underrepresented minority groups in science, the event served as a community  building function for women in science. The event focused on discussions about what a scientist looks like, how to be a badass scientist and understanding imposter syndrome. Although the event named women specifically, anyone was welcomed to join in.

Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo is a professor in physics and astronomy at HSU. Rodriguez Hidalgo was a collaborative organizer that helped put the event together with a group of other science professors and staff.

Rodriguez Hidalgo said students in science sometimes feel like they don’t belong. Women and underrepresented minority groups in the science field often leave the field they are trying to pursue.

“The percentages of women in science are really low,” Rodriguez Hidalgo said. “We want this seminar to make women and underrepresented groups feel a sense of belonging in the science field.”

Melanie Michalak is a geology professor at HSU. Michalak also helped organize the event.

“We noticed in science classes the students consist of 50 percent male and 50 female but the male students often tend to speak up more,” Michalak said.

Michalak said that women and underrepresented groups often feel the imposter syndrome.

The imposter syndrome is a condition that any student may feel. Imposter syndrome is when a student feels unqualified and doesn’t feel smart enough to the point that they think they are fooling others into believing they are smart and successful in a class that is challenging to them. In reality, they are not fooling anyone but themselves, according to Claire Till, an assistant professor of chemistry at HSU.

“A lot of people who feel imposter syndrome are all actually very successful,” Till said.

Till ran the imposter syndrome workshop at the event alongside another HSU assistant professor Kerri Hickenbottom.

Till said that the event organizers wanted to let people know what imposter syndrome was a normal thought that exists and a lot of people feel it. Till also said that women and underrepresented minority groups are more likely to feel imposter syndrome.

According to the university enrollment dashboard, 50 percent of students in the college of natural resource and science are women and 35 percent of those students are underrepresented minority ethnic groups.

Jenna Schoelkopf is a chemistry major. Schoelkopf said she attended the event because she wanted to know more about imposter syndrome.

“As I was reading what imposter syndrome was I started crying because I have felt that way since I was 7 and I have that feeling in class,” Schoelkopf said. “It was super weird reading it.”

Julianne Sison-Ebitner is an environmental resource engineering major. Sison-Ebitner said she attended the event because she wanted to get advice from people who share the same experiences as women in science and how they have overcome the obstacles they faced.

“I come from a really traditional Filipino family,  the only science my family was exposed to was nursing, so when I told my them I wanted to be an engineer it really confused them,” Sison-Ebitner said. “It’s been a battle to get here.”

Sison-Ebitner said that the seminar uplifted her and gave her the confidence and reassurance that she is a woman of science.

“I am a woman of science and that is not going to change,” Sison-Ebitner said.

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