Evelynn M.'s Open Road

  • INTERVIEWED BY:

    Women In STEM

  • INTERVIEW LOCATION:

    Cambridge, MA

EVELYNN M. HAMMONDS

Professor, History of Science, African and African American Studies
Harvard University

“Constantly confront racial and gendered stereotypes directly. If you run away from difficult perceptions or attitude in the culture, you're going to be running your whole life.”

INTERESTS:

Education Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Determination Societal Pressures Negativity Perseverance Fulfillment Values Education Goals Passion Community Support & Encouragement

FOUNDATION:

Learning and Being Challenged

TAGS:

adversity, African-American, discrimination, diversity, doing what you love, engineering, exclusionary, limitations, minorities, opportunity, participate, passion, physics, science, societal norms, STEM, stereotype, support, support system, women

BIOGRAPHY:

  • She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia; her father wanted to become an engineer, but no schools would accept an African American man into their engineering programs.
  • Even so, his love of science was clearly passed down to her; her favorite toy as a child was a chemistry set.
  • When she went to college, she noticed that she was the only African American woman in her physics and chemistry classes.
  • She became interested in why she wasn’t seeing more women and people of color in these classes, and ended up making it her life’s work.
  • Says that the diversity problem in STEM fields is a historical problem that dates all the way back to the Industrial Revolution.
  • Over time, as science and engineering began to be viewed as “prestigious” jobs, women and minorities had to start fighting to be let in.
  • Not only has her research shed light on the underlying issues contributing to inequalities in STEM, but her own career has also broken down countless barriers for women in these fields.
  • She was the first African American woman to win tenure at MIT, and she was the first woman and first African American to be named Dean of Harvard College.

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