'As a black woman in STEM I'm used for photo opportunities'

'As a black woman in STEM I'm used for photo opportunities'

From BBC

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Image source, Tyler Small

When Cynthia Chapple was asked to help out with a photograph of a research professor and his staff, she assumed that she would be the one taking the photo. The image was going to be used by the professor for a grant application.

Ms Chapple, then a chemistry researcher at a US university, didn’t work with his team directly and had minimal interactions with them personally. Yet, when she arrived to take the photo she was pulled in front of the camera, alongside the team. Confused, she smiled for the picture before an uncomfortable realisation dawned on her.

She looked around her: the research team were all white men, and she was the only black woman in the photo.

“This was an example of ‘Photoshop’ diversity, when black women are used for photo opportunities,” she tells the BBC, “I was being used to show he worked in an inclusive team and to secure him funding. I was embarrassed.”

The 31-year-old grew up in an inner-city neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago.

She grew up in a large family with seven siblings, her whole universe existed within a two-block radius. Her father worked as a security guard and her mother worked as a nursing assistant. Cynthia’s school, her extended family and all her friends were just five minutes away and evenings were spent exploring the neighbourhood.

Image source, Black Girls do STEM

“I would make lists of ways to improve the neighbourhood,” she says, “I would count the number of liquor [alcohol] stores, or unused lots in the area and write up

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