Posts tagged "STEM"

Meet PhDivas!

What do you get when you add brains, ambition, drive + beauty? PhDivas, of course! In a society where media loves to portray women of color as just beauty with no brains, it’s completely refreshing for Dr. Liz Wayne and Dr. Christine “Xine” Yao to create an empowering  platform that flips the script! PhDivas podcast covers  academia, culture, + social justice across the STEM/humanities divide. An engaging conversation between friends and scholars, PhDivas fills a niche for witty and insightful discussion and proves that PhDs in Engineering and English literature have more in common than meets the eye.

At over 50 episodes, PhDivas garnered a wide audience with a listenership from over 100 countries and over 20,000 plays. Two women of color Ivy League PhDs navigating higher education. Biomedical engineer meets literary critic. And of course, both fans of lipstick!

Let’s get to know Liz + Xine a little better!

PhDivasis a podcast about academia, culture, and social justice across the STEM/Humanities divide, what made you launch this powerful podcast?

Academia is a struggle for everyone, especially for those who are underrepresented minorities. Solidarity between women, especially women of color, is so important for surviving higher education regardless of discipline. Sometimes we have to be the change we want to see in the world or the inspiration we wish we could have had. This work is deeply personal: we hope to be part of a chain reaction that will make higher education a better place. As Liz likes to say, “Academia won’t be the space that was provided for me but one that I create — not the one I dreamed of but one that I build.” Join our community!

Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, which past topics/episodes do you feel your audience responded to more than others? And why do you feel this topic had a large effect?

People feel the pressure to perform perfection all the time, but we try to be honest about the struggle and our anxieties. One of our most popular recent episodes was S03E23 “The Secret Life of Academic Conferences.” Perhaps drew our listeners was that we went beyond the list of practical, professional tips and advice that can be found elsewhere; instead, we delved into the social life and psychology of the conference experience that people don’t often talk about — especially not from the perspective of those who are junior in academia. One of our classic episodes S02E07 “Imposter Syndrome and Other Anxieties” speaks to the personal and structural difficulties everyone can have in competitive environments. Together we discuss the difference between responding to environments inhospitable to women of colour versus universal worries about expectations and performance.

Christine “Xine” Yao

We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?

We both love how Laverne Cox talks about possibility models instead of role models. For Xine that person is Sara Ahmed, a (now former) academic in the humanities working on feminist and queer of color criticism; not only does Xine draw from Ahmed’s theoretical models, but she is inspired by how Ahmed practices her principles in life, not just in research.

For Liz that person is Dean Gilda Barabino, the first Black women to be Dean of an Engineering School. She has led an exemplary career and she just an amazing and lovely person to be around. She gives me hope.

Liz Wayne

If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with race and gender issues in their day to day, what would it be?

 Xine: There’s a community out there for you and those people are both more wonderful and more flawed than you can imagine. You will grow together when you work toward each other’s liberation. Oh, and you need to learn how to strategically stop caring or listening to those on the outside in order to make it through.

Liz: Some things we can’t change or help– where we live, who are family is, etc., but we can choose our friends and our life partners. Choose wisely. When the world feels like it has no space for you, surround yourself with people who want you to be healthy, happy, and successful. Don’t linger on the toxic relationships or the toxic social images. Having a strong support network has helped me deal with the struggles of the world.

We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?

Lift each other up!

Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?

Xine: Food: loves eating everything but if she had to choose it would be good ice cream. Artist: Gustav Klimt or Kara Walker (easier for me to think of this kind of artist and not musical ones!) Song: History Maker by Dean Fujioka (the theme song for the anime Yuri!!! On Ice) Celeb Crush: Riz Ahmed

Liz: Food: Chicago deep crust pizza. Artist:Titus Kaphar & Frida Kahlo. Song: Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks  ​Celeb Crush: Rihanna (because she puts in work work work work work).

Check out more of Liz + Xine here!






STEM from Dance MOVE Event!

NYC! Come + support the MOVE event from STEM from Dance for their fundraiser for the 2017-2018 academic year. The focus is to expose young  to explore STEM ( STEM = Science , Technology, Engineering, Math) careers by fusing together computer programming and dance.


WHEN: May 11th

WHERE: SoHo – 69 Charlton St.

TO EAT/DRINK: Drinks + Food will be provided

INCLUDES:  a silent auction + general mingling + a good time

Tickets can be purchased here:

Tickets are $35

Girls from STEM from Dance


STEM from Dance

Meet STEM From Dance!

A couple of weeks ago I visited students and founder of STEM from Dance at IS 145 in Queens where I got to see the program in action. STEM from Dance is an organization that combines dancing with science and math to help encourage young girls to gain confidence within them and science. Their mission is to reach under-represented minority girls by using dance to encourage girls to seek STEM careers later on in life. I interviewed the founder, Yamilée Toussaint, about her organization.
Let’s get to know Yamilée + STEM from Dance a little better…
Echoing Green
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’d say there is probably two types of schedules when it comes to my day-to-day activties.  I’m either going to a school at some point in the day to see the program in action. Usually, I’m there to observe, support, lend an extra hand, and offer feedback with an outsider’s perspective to the instructor to see where we can add improvements.
My time outside of the school is spent running the rest of the organization which entails having conversations with people who do similar work or who are interested in partnering in some way.  It could also be managing our finances, reviewing a grant application that somebody else wrote for us,  or prioritizing on how I’m spending my time with the organization.
So either I’m at a school tending to the little things or being absent but focusing on the items I need to do to keep the business afloat.
What is most challenging about your job?
There are so many things but I’ll just  try to name a few.  One challenge  is that a good amount of what I do I’m doing for the first time and learning as I’m doing it. I’m constantly wondering  ‘Am I approaching this in the best way?’ Should I be seeking more opinions before I make this decision? Is their somebody who has done this already that I can learn from?
I’m always questioning and making sure that I am choosing the right choices so I’d say the second-guessing is challenging.
 A second difficulty is convincing others of the value in investing in supporting what we’re doing.  I think people sometimes feel the concept of using dance to draw young girls into stem is something that is unusual and confusing. The challenge is to make sure that partnered schools and organizations genuinely understand what we do and don’t think that we’re using dance as a gimmick.  Explainining that our program makes an impact can sometimes be a difficult hill to climb.
What is most enjoyable about your job?
I’ve had the option to use my engineering degree and get  a job in that field but I knew that I wanted to directly impact the minority community. It’s important to empower those who are disempowered that’s why that my main reason why I chose not to do engineering full-time.
It’s enjoyable to do something that aligns with my personal passions. I’m just grateful that I love what I do for my full-time job.  To be able to empower youth while using my educational background is such a privilege!
What makes your program stand out compared to other programs?
I think the core of what we do is look at the population of who we want to serve and think about what they are already excited about.
The key is to use their personal interests to bridge the gap towards  careers that  may have a reputation of being whack and boring you know?
There’s still a lot of work to do to make math + science more approachable and so I think that we have an advantage to draw students who just like to dance.  We are offering the chance to dance to create and perform as well as  leading them down a transformational path that could be very promising for their future.
Did you have a program like this when you were younger? If not, then how do you think a program like this would have affected your life?
Not exactly, so I’ve been dancing since I was 4 or 5 years old.  I went to this dance school not too far from where I lived and I was there 6 days a week which was a large part of my upbringing. But on the flipside I particpipated in math club on this side but was never able to  practice them together.
I developed strong friendships because I was surrounded by individuals with similar interests. I went to a school focused in technology so I was around people with the same  passions which naturally encouraged me to move forward.
Who or what inspires you?
My father because he is an engineer and would bring me to work all the time. Even when he came home he had the mindset of naturally creating solutions to any challenges he was ever facing. He was my inspiration and so clearly he was a big influence in our lives.  My mother always made sure I was exposed to different opportunities such as dance and music. So it was a perfect mixture for my life!
Where do you see this program in 10 years?
My long-term vision is to continue to use relevancy and tying them to opportunities of today’s youth. I want more students to have access to the program not only by location but also to those who are interested in different activities outside of dance.
 We want to expand beyond dance and make subjects that youth may not neccesarily be enthusiatiastic about yet  and make them more attractive.And even go beyond students and adults who are looking for a new career or trait!
We are all about EMPOWERMENT at C.O.R.E mag, what does empowerment mean to you?
There is something special about discovering untapped potential and realizing that we are capable of more than we think.
A major moment in life is when we realize that we naturally put limits on ourselves until we’re exposed to something better.
 I remember when I was in high school I was doing well academically and during freshman year I was receiving low to high 90’s. I thought I was doing great!  But one day I was at my neighbor’s house and saw their report card. He was receiving over 100 because our school offered extra credit. I didn’t even know you could receive over 100! But all I needed  was to discover it was possible and voila!
The rest of high school I began performing at that level so I think it’s just being able to help somebody realize they’re potential and encouraging them by exposing them to something new.
You can find more about the organization at the website, and follow
them on twitter: @stemfromdance
Interview by Xandria Milligan