LaShana Lewis

People of color should participate in the March for Science on Saturday, April 22 because we have been left out of the conversation of where STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is going for far too long. Historically speaking, we have been major contributors to innovation since the beginning, but we have been pushed off to the side, ignored or stolen from in this industry. To be seen, we need to make ourselves be seen and continue to be stubborn as we participate in the STEM fields.

I march for science to bring visibility to women of color, particularly black women, in engineering and technology. Without the participation of women in computer programming – such as Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson – my recognition as a black woman in technology would not exist.  But even so, we are still fighting for recognition to this day. According to Hired’s “Women, Work, and the State of Wage Inequality” report,  in the technology sector alone, black men make only .88 cents to the dollar that a white man makes, while black women make just .79 cents to that same dollar.

And on top of that, it’s already been proven that diverse companies and organizations are more financially successful and more innovative than those that are not diverse. With people of color involved in STEM, we create more diversity, not only because of our skin color, but also because our distinct thoughts and experiences help solve problems.

But even more than what I’ve mentioned above, the sciences matter. We’ve already seen the effects of climate change – more children have asthma because of it. Vaccines have saved lives and, without them, we’ve seen more recent outbreaks of measles. Many people I grew up with received their science and technology education through programs like PBS. In fact, one Colorado newspaper reports that communities of color and poor communities “watch PBS KIDS in higher numbers than commercial children’s programming.”

These are the topics we should care about, the topics that make me march above all else, because I have two nephews and two nieces who deserve to live in a world that is more advanced and far improved compared to the one we live in now. Our world is more advanced than the one our parents grew up in, and I would expect nothing less for the next generation.

Please join me at the March for Science St. Louis on Saturday, April 22, starting at 1 p.m. in front of Union Station at 18th and Market streets. We will march from Union Station to Luther Ely Smith Square. At the end of the March, please stick around to hear from some local speakers in our STEM community – and grab some food from our food trucks. We also encourage people to continue the celebration of STEM at the free Earth Day Festival in Forest Park for the remainder of the weekend.

LaShana Lewis is a systems engineer at MasterCard, and she is a St. Louis city resident currently co-chairing the Social Media Team for March for Science St. Louis.

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