Sadly, there is very little support for people with disabilities who choose to enter STEM fields, and even less for women, people of color, and other minority groups that intersect with disability. People with disabilities struggle for even basic access to education, so obtaining a background that enables someone to go on in science can be a daunting a task. Compound that with existing myths that people with disabilities are inherently less intelligent or less capable of pursuing advanced degrees, and it is a recipe for very poor representation. In fact, only about 9-10% of STEM undergraduates have disabilities, a stat that drops to 5% with master’s degrees, and 1% at the Ph.D. level.
Femme de Chem’s main mission is to break down these stereotypes and to be a central point for professionals, students, parents, and educators to learn about what resources are out there. To prove that even though you represent 1-10% of your field, you are not alone.
Kit is DeafBlind herself, and has understood the importance of outreach since she had the chance to see a blind NASA employee speak about her job and experiences. Her own experiences in undergraduate physics and math departments has reinforced the idea that there is a need for better information channels to education, mentoring, and conferences for people with disabilities in STEM. While these exist, there is a disconnect between the programs and the people they are trying to reach. Kit is trying to bridge the communication gap, and help to connect people with programs.