When Monifa Phillips graduated from the University of Glasgow in scotland, she became the first black women to obtain a Ph.D. in physics from the university.
The hard-earned milestone, however, did not come without its fair share of racial stereotypes attached.
“I’ve been told ‘black people are just not good at science’ for instance, ‘they are just better at music,’” Phillips said on Twitter earlier this year.
She said she has to review the websites of prospective companies to see if they hire black people or people of color.
“Otherwise I have to ask, ‘DO YOU HIRE BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE? FOR THERE IS NO EVIDENCE.’ and see how they respond,” Phillips said.
A study the journal Educational Researcher released earlier this year found that although Black and Latino students are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, they are either switching majors or dropping out of college at higher rates than their white classmates.
Phillips said she noticed the lack of diversity as well stating: “I’m a proud Black British woman from (London). I made space for myself in a predominantly white, male field,” she said on Twitter. “It was hard, but with the support of my family & my community, I did it.”
The university’s School of Physics and Astronomy congratulated Phillips on being the first and also addressed the need for more diversity.
“We recognize that Physics suffers from a lack of racial diversity,” the school said. “Although Monifa is the first, we are determined she will not be the last Ph.D. awarded!”