Leveraging the immense popularity of the hit movie “Hidden Figures,” the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) has launched a nationwide campaign titled #BlackSTEMLikeMe.
This unique multimedia initiative is aiming to encourage black students and professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to share their stories and passions; bring visibility to the important work they are doing; show black boys and girls that a future in STEM is an incredible and attainable career path; demonstrate the value of NSBE membership and celebrate the unique, wonderful and life-changing aspects of the African-American community — past and present.
The campaign is designed to move NSBE toward the main goal of its 10-year strategic plan, which is to lead the U.S. to produce 10,000 African-American bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering annually by 2025, up from 3,501 graduates in 2014.
“Hidden Figures,” released in theaters nationwide on Jan. 6, tells the story of how three African-American women — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — contributed critical math, engineering and computer science work to the early missions of the U.S. space program. The movie, which is getting great reviews and was the No. 1 film at the box office in its first two weekends, is bringing a major focus to the often overlooked contributions of the black STEM community.
“NSBE is very excited about this campaign, which makes a conscious effort to highlight black men and women in STEM and show young black boys and girls that this is a career path that it’s cool for them to pursue,” said NSBE National Secretary Racheida Lewis. “Being a member of NSBE has enabled me and many other black students to successfully complete engineering and other STEM-related degree programs. And it has empowered me to pursue my passion of educating others about STEM through initiatives such as #BlackSTEMLikeMe.”
Trina Fletcher is director of Pre-College Programs for NSBE and a Ph.D. candidate in engineering education at Purdue University. Like Lewis, she places high value on presenting positive STEM role models and mentors to African-American youth.
“Without my STEM education and professional career opportunities, I would not be the leader and woman that I am today,” Fletcher said. “As a member of NSBE and now full-time employee of the organization, I've been able to see the impact we have on people of color, ranging from K–12 students to professionals on their way to retirement from their companies. I encourage all black parents and caregivers to take advantage of the opportunity to expose their children to STEM through #BlackSTEMLikeMe as well as NSBE youth programs such as our Pre-College Initiative and the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK).”
#BlackSTEMLikeME provides many avenues for STEM students and professionals to participate in the campaign through social media:
- By sharing STEM stories on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or via the BlackSTEMLikeMe.nsbe.org website using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag. The best stories will be entered in NSBE’s national social media webisode series;
- By tweeting STEM stories, including visuals, using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag;
- By posting STEM stories to personal Facebook pages, tagging the NSBE Facebook page using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag;
- By posting STEM photos or videos to Instagram, tagging @NSBE and using the #BlackSTEMLikeMe hashtag; and
- By emailing text and video for blog posts to BlackSTEMLikeMe@nsbe.org for posting on the BlackSTEMLikeMe.nsbe.org website.
“This campaign proves, once again, the power of good partnerships: combining NSBE members’ grassroots activism and dedication to our mission with the resources of other socially progressive organizations,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “We thank our #BlackSTEMLikeMe sponsors for making this effort possible.”
A list of the #BlackSTEMLikeMe sponsors follows. Learn more about the #BlackSTEMLikeMe campaign, including upcoming events and other ways to get involved, at BlackSTEMLikeMe.nsbe.org.