What is the hardest part about being an African-Ameican woman and becoming a mathematician?
I am asking this because I know it is very hard for an African-American woman to major in mathematics and work in this field. In addition, I am curious about how these mathematicians overcome the obstacles that they face.
My advice is to take every challenge as an opportunity to learn. You will feel like you are in the wrong place especially if there are no people that you can identify with directly. Use this challenge to prove yourself to those that are doubting you and set your standard high. I always felt like I had to prove myself among my peers for them to know that I am capable and exceptional. I took this positively and always had it as an expectation and it has paid off.
I have also found that in many companies, most people are actually accepting and sometimes we are the ones that put the limits on ourselves and assume worse than how everything is. Again, I would say that you take the opportunity and have an open mind to venture out and take advantage of the opportunities that arise while bringing diversity to the company.
Don't limit yourself just because there are no other black people in the field that you want to pursue. Follow your dream with an open mind.
I think one of the most difficult parts about being a minority at your work is that on top of your everyday work - you can often feel tasked with helping your firm's diversity efforts. This may be recruiting diversity hires, mentoring them as they work with you, and/or teaching your colleagues about your background. Quite frankly, you may be doing may work than your other peers due to your personal connection to driving these changes.
On the other hand, being diverse does provide an opportunity to open doors. Often people of color look out for each other because they want them to succeed. In addition, today companies are looking for more perspectives - being diverse can help with that. Don't get me wrong, that's not always the case and you still have to put in the same hard work. However, I wouldn't be where I am today without the many diversity and inclusion programs and internships I have attended. We are finally getting a seat at the table, take the invite and find a way to bring others.
Once again, don't be afraid to be the most authentic version of yourself and bring your whole self to whatever you do. Best of luck!
I can't really answer this personally. However, I offer the following links that I hope will be useful.
This is a link to the Association for Women in Mathematics. There is a link for students and a link for careers with a lot of great information.
Historical information: "Mathematicians of the African Diaspora."
Here is an article on encouraging black women to join mathematics.
Please join us in STEM. :)