top of page

What Biden/Harris Presidency Means for Minority Girls in STEM

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris shares a fist bump at the 59th Inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021.

Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

On Wednesday 20th January 2021, millions around the globe witnessed one of the most monumental events in American history. During the 59th #Inauguration, Kamala Harris a #Black/Asian Woman was sworn in as America's FIRST #Female #Vice President.

#Kamala Harris' ascension to the 49th Vice President position, is not only an inspiration to women but a beacon of hope to black and brown girls everywhere. Looking on the surface, a woman born to immigrant parents, a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, seemed have the odds stacked against her.

However, after a deeper look into Vice President Harris' lineage we discovered how much Kamala was influenced by trailblazers, chief amongst them her amazing mother Shyamala, a woman deeply involved in #STEM. Shyamala Gopalan Harris was an American biomedical scientist from India, whose work in isolating and characterizing the progesterone receptor gene stimulated advances in breast biology and oncology. Shyamala was passionate about cancer research, this #STEMinist graduated from Delhi University, she went to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her doctorate in nutrition and endocrinology. Shyamala success in this science and breast cancer research was notably influential. According to the Breast Cancer Action her work "sparked many advances regarding the role of progesterone and its cellular receptor in breast biology and cancer," Article. She worked at the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin, spent time in France and Italy, and then received tenure at McGill University in Montreal.

Additionally, Kamla's mother had been raised in a household where political activism and civic leadership came naturally," Kamala Harris wrote in her 2019 autobiography, The Truths We Hold. "From both of my grandparents, my mother developed a keen political consciousness. She was conscious of history, conscious of struggle, conscious of inequities. She was born with a sense of justice imprinted on her soul."

Accomplishing this amazing feat had a major impact on her daughters Maya and Kamala. This is visible the way Vice President Harris often speaks of her mother, A famous quote by Harris, "I was raised by a mother who said that to me all the time: 'Kamala, well, you may be the first to do many things—make sure you're not the last.' And that's how I feel about this moment." Indeed this amazing woman who was not only a minority but a female Doctor paved the way for her daughter to become America's first female Vice President.

Not to be dismissed Kamala's father Donald J. Harris was born in Jamaica in 1938, and moved to the United States in the 1960s to get his Ph.D. at the University of California-Berkeley. Source A former economics professor at Stanford and an immigrant from Jamaica, he taught undergraduate classes such as "Theory of Capitalist Development" and graduate students in a program named, "Alternative Approaches to Economic Analysis."

But what does this mean for minority girls in STEM?

One can not help but to notice and wonder what contribution that Vice President Harris will make considering both parents were actively involved in STEM Education.

According to President Joe Biden plan for education, President Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability. Source

Specifically, President Biden strategic plan of action includes building the best, most innovative schools in the country in low-income communities and communities of color. Preparing students for the workforce increasingly entails not only rigorous academics, but also problem-solving, collaboration, and technical skills.

Further President Biden vows to support colleges and universities that play unique and vital roles in their communities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions. This is a major milestone for girls of color who aspire to attend and pursue STEM degrees to HBU's in the United Sates.

President-elect Joe Biden commitment to STEM was unveiled in his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering." The Biden administration will rely on the nation’s top health experts to develop effective anti-pandemic strategies and establish national guidelines to restore the nation’s economic and social life. This support to professionals in science not only will help to restore faith in STEM experts but also provide an incentive for future scientist to continue in their careers.

As we welcome the incumbent President and Vice President, we are reminded of the significance of the moment. A woman of color born to immigrant parents, her mother who not only was a doctor but who according to Harris " was very intentional about raising my sister, Maya, and me as strong, Black women", is now the Vice President of America. How amazing is that.

May this be a clarion call to girls everywhere that you one day to can not only be the first, but can open the doors for other to come.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page