Transgender women of color who have an advanced degree, MS or PhD, in Physics, and who have made, or make some part of their living by doing physics are rare. So far as I know I am the only one. It is said there are only six Black American women with PhD’s in theoretical high energy physics. A rough guess would be that there are less than sixty Black women with any advanced degree in any area of physics. There is no social justice point made here, no theory as to the cause for why beyond this. There are few transwomen of color in the world. Only ten to twelve percent of people have a MS or PhD in any subject, let alone physics. The intersection of these sets would naturally be quite small even without any sociological, discriminatory, barriers.
It has just occurred to me I could be the only, singular, African American Transgender woman with an advanced degree in physics working in academia. As much of a buff on the resume as that would be, being the only one of something, I’d be horrified if that were the case.
That may be why I haven’t written much about possibly the most interesting story I’d have to tell on this blog…my own.
So please, let me know if you are out there. I would much rather write about other people.
Please answer the following questions in the comments. What is your name, degree and where do you / have you worked? Are you still in physics research or teaching? If you have left academia why? If you have stayed in academia why?
My answers. Hontas F. Farmer, MS. I work at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and City Colleges of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois as an adjunct professor. The subjects I teach vary from math to astronomy to physics. I am still in physics teaching and I do some research of my own. The reason I stay in academia is because I really want to be a physicist and to help other people truly achieve such knowledge, above all else.
If I were to leave the reason would be as follows. I care more about doing my job than keeping it. When students are consumers paying for an outcome rather than learners paying for an educational experience, I can’t do my job. At that point in the future, maybe, AI will take over doing the thinking for us. That would make education superfluous. What do we do when the only job left is to train the AI that will replace us?