Jubilee celebrations: Discussing Black Representation in STEM

Springer Nature Group
By: Deborah Daley, Wed Jul 20 2022

2022 marks the second anniversary of Springer Nature’s Black Employee Network, also known as SN BEN. Set up in 2020 with chapters in both the UK and USA, SN BEN serves to: 

We marked our first year with an event sponsored by Scientific American featuring a discussion with New York Times columnist Charles Blow and musical performance by the award-winning British artist, Omar. 

This year we hosted a Jubilee event, which is a time to celebrate and recognise achievements and also to highlight specific issues of importance. Our topic was ‘Diversity in STEM: Keeping the DEI conversation going’. We chose this topic because although George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 sparked a global awareness and a conversation about systemic racial inequality, as the world slowly went back to normal post the pandemic, this focus on systemic racism started to fall. This event was a way to keep this conversation top of mind and to discuss in actionable ways how to address the imbalance of Black representation in STEM, the future of DEI and allyship.     

We were fortunate enough to be joined by an excellent panel, our main challenge was, in fact, whittling the number of potential panelists down, as there are so many talented Black STEM professionals. Our chosen panelists are achieving amazing things: from mentoring the next generation of diverse STEM professionals, to providing educational content, to uncovering and addressing health inequities, globally. 

Here’s a small selection of edited highlights from the conversation:

“I try to be at the table because as you all know, there's a lot of decisions that are made about students, about who gets accepted to schools and programs and who doesn't. Who are good students and who are bad students. And if you're not at the table, behind the scenes, it's hard to help break down some of the structural racism.”

Dr Antonio T. Baines, Associate Professor and a pancreatic cancer researcher, North Carolina Central University.

“I think that building cultural competence means bringing everybody to the table with some sort of lasting commitment to empower each other. To have a safe environment where we can voice opinions, we can participate in the development and implementation of positive systemic change and best practices where we can start to change the way that we see each other.”

Charlotte Owens MD, Vice President, Head of the Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

“And the truth of the matter is so many of those have the potential to literally change the world, so many of our black youth…have the potential, the ability, the intellect, that can really spark something that the world has yet to see, just don't see it yet themselves.”

“So it takes an extreme intentionality, such as what we're doing here in the Black Employee Network. And in those who are not necessarily in the Black community to say, ‘Hey, I'm going to at least begin to remove barriers that make it hard for people to see themselves in this future and then I'm going to intentionally support opportunities that may allow them to see physically individuals that have done it.’” 

Dr Nehemiah Mabry, Founder and CEO of STEMedia Incorporated & Bridge Design Engineer.

“I've been looking at West Africa, I've been traveling there in the past few months. There are labs, there are projects. There are similar projects to the 100,000 Genomes Project that was happening in the UK, happening now in Senegal, with a Nigerian based company that is also in D.C. There's so many things happening in that space. And I think just as when people approach us to ask how can we find diverse talent? You tell them, well, you have to look for it. You have to be open, to look and understand what else is happening in areas where you're not really familiar with the people.” 

Sabrina Fleurimé, Corporate Partnership Director, BBSTEM.

You can watch the full discussion, along with an excellent performance by the musical group, Sterling Strings.

As Springer Nature’s Black Employee Network we’d like to close with a huge thank you to our panelists, our moderator, Marylin “Mimi” Hendricks, our event sponsor, Scientific American, the support of the DEI team, and those who came to listen and take part. It was an insightful, optimistic and thought provoking discussion and we look forward to planning future events.


To find about more about Springer Nature's Employee Networks, including SN Ben, visit their homepage here. You can also visit the Springer Nature Group YouTube channel to watch SN BEN's recent speaker series, for more examples of their work. For more details on Springer Nature's DEI programmes click here.

Deborah Daley

Author: Deborah Daley

Deborah Daley is Head of Strategic Marketing, Research and Content Solutions at Springer Nature. She is also the Global Co-Chair of Springer Nature’s Black Employee Network (SN BEN) which she co-founded in August 2020. Deborah is also the UK lead for the Network's Employee Programme stream.

Related Tags: