Currently – and historically – Indigenous and Black graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs are underrepresented in faculties across Canada. We want to change this. The lack of diversity amongst professors in engineering and technology is a key factor in not attracting Indigenous and Black students to the engineering profession – students need to see themselves reflected in their teachers and in their leaders.
How can we encourage bright young Indigenous and Black high school students to enter STEM careers if they don’t see Indigenous and Black professors in these faculties?
Seeing is believing. When you are a First Nations, Inuit, Métis, or Black first-year student in engineering or math, and you see that your professor looks like you and shares many of the same lived cultural experiences, you are encouraged that you, too, can succeed, and that your presence in academia is welcome and your voice is heard.
To rectify this situation, we recognize that institutions of higher learning need to reduce the systemic barriers that exist for junior Indigenous and Black scholars pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering and STEM programs. IBET will provide a supportive, respectful community that is essential for the candidates’ success during the rigorous PhD process and beyond, which includes applying for tenured positions.
The IBET PhD program is intended to foster equitable and inclusive research environments in order to increase the presence of Indigenous and Black academics in STEM.
This support, now primarily through four-year $30,000/annual IBET Momentum fellowships as well as academic mentoring, will assist in creating a robust presence of what is currently an underrepresented group of young researchers. The success of these scholars will lead to teaching and research careers in academia, industry and policy making.