Black women have historically been excluded and underrepresented in STEM.

In 2018, for example, Black women accounted for 2.9 per cent of all STEM Bachelor degrees earned in the United States, according to an analysis by Catalyst. And in 2017, only 2.5 per cent of the U.S. science and engineering workforce consisted of Black women.

There are many contributing factors. One, which is finally being discussed more openly, is racism — both at the academic and the corporate level. Another is a lack of support for the unique challenges that Black women face in male-dominated, white-centred areas of expertise.

In a Monday press release, Proctor & Gamble brands Royal Oils by Head & Shoulders and Gold Series from Pantene say they are stepping in to help bridge the STEM gap.

In a partnership with CVS, P&G will award US$200,000 in scholarships to Black women who are pursuing STEM degrees at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and UNCF member schools in the U.S.

The ‘Rooted in Science’ scholarships will be administered by the UNCF, a non-profit that funds scholarships for 37 private American HBCUs.

The U.S. is home to more than 100 HBCUs, which make up 3 per cent of the country’s colleges and universities, P&G says, but produce 27 per cent of Black students with STEM undergrad degrees.

According to P&G, Pantene’s Gold Series, which was released in early 2018, was formulated by “Black scientists, Ph.D.s, dermatologists, and stylists” to provide “strength and moisture for women with relaxed, natural, or transitioning hair.”


To apply for the Rooted in Science scholarship, visit the UNCF Rooted in Science application form

Applications will be open from November 15-January 4, 2021, with recipients announced on January 28, 2021.

Sixteen applicants will be awarded US$5,000 a year for up to two years.

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