“A man who stands for nothing will fall for any thing” – Malcolm X
This best captures Monifa Phillips’ defying perseverance and rejection of deliberate and systematic measures devised to limit the progress of blacks in all human endeavors.
Even before Phillips venturing into the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field, the odds have since millennia been against black students underpinned by racial bias.
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Despite being told blacks are not good at science, Phillips remained resolute and shattered that glass ceiling on June 24 by becoming the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Glasgow in the University’s 568-year history.
Tweeting about her accomplishment Phillips wrote: “This week I was the very first black woman to graduate from the Uni of Glasgow with a Ph.D. in Physics.”
“I’m a proud Black British woman from LDN. I made space for myself in a predominantly white, male field. It was hard, but with the support of my family & my community, I did it.”
This week I was the very first black woman to graduate from the Uni of Glasgow with a PhD in Physics.— Monifa Phillips, PhD (@monifa_monifa) June 30, 2019
I’m a proud Black British woman from LDN. I made space for myself in a predominantly white, male field. It was hard, but with the support of my family & my community, I did it. pic.twitter.com/12YYOiJq0c
A shocking 2017 report from The Atlantic, noted that not one Black student received a doctoral degree in STEM’s dozens of fields. Again, according to the National Science Foundation, only 5.4% of Ph.D. recipients in STEM fields are Black.
Professor Muffy Calder, head of the University of Glasgow’s College of Science and Engineering, congratulated Phillips’ on her major accomplishment.
“Congratulations to Monifa Phillips on becoming the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. from the University’s School of Physics in Materials and Condensed Matter Physics,” the educator said. “We wish Dr. Phillips the best of luck in her future career!”
I’ve been told the same myself, I’ve been told “black people are just not good at science” for instance, “they are just better at music”— Monifa Phillips, PhD (@monifa_monifa) May 20, 2019
The Scottish Parliament also congratulated Phillips on her extraordinary achievement in a motion which read: “…the Parliament congratulates Monifa Phillips, the University of Glasgow’s (UoG) first black woman to graduate with a PhD in Physics; understands that Monifa, who is originally from London, studied physics at the University of Sheffield before embarking on a PhD within the Materials and Condensed Matter Physics group at the UoG; acknowledges that the UoG is committed to improving equality and diversity within STEM education and STEM careers with several ongoing projects at the university aimed at improving equality, diversity and inclusion within engineering and the physical sciences; notes that students at the UoG established the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (WiSTEM) group in 2015 to promote, support and celebrate Women in STEM, and commends the ongoing support offered by UoG to women pursuing a career in STEM.”
Phillips who is now a trainee patent attorney within the electronics and engineering team at Veneer Shipley, an intellectual property firm in Europe, shared her experience throughout her doctoral career.