First Black woman earns Ph.D. in physics from Univ. of Glasgow after being told Blacks aren’t good at science

University Of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom (Photo by Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash)

Monifa Phillips, a Black woman from London, has clapped back in the best possible way at critics who told her that Black folks just aren’t as good at science, technology, math and engineering.

On June 24th, Phillips became the first Black woman to EVER earn a doctorate in physics from the University of Glasgow in Scotland in the school’s 568-year history, generating admiration from across the globe.

Phillips’ accomplishment even prompted the Scottish Parliament to recognize her in a motion last week.

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The University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy congratulated Phillips too.

“Today we’re delighted to congratulate Dr. Monifa Phillips, the first Black woman to be awarded a Ph.D. degree from @UofGPhysAstro,” the school said via Twitter. “We recognize that Physics suffers from a lack of racial diversity; although Monifa is the first, we are determined she will not be the last Ph.D. awarded!”

Posting photos of herself in her cap and gown and posing with her jubilant family members, Phillips said via Twitter that she was beaming from her accomplishment.

“I’m a proud Black British woman from LDN,” she wrote. “I made space for myself in a predominantly white, male field. It was hard, but with the support of my family & my community, I did it.”

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The material scientist said via Twitter in May that she’s been told, “Black people are just not good at science,” and, “they are just better at music.”

Her path toward her Ph.D. included a thesis on ways to more efficiently store memory. She focused on a technology called RRAM, which enabled her to use layers of varying materials called “thin film heterostructures.”

Phillips is making a name for herself not only in the United Kingdom, but around the world with a type of degree that only few Black people have earned.

According to the National Science Foundation, a very slim 5.4 percent of those earning doctoral degrees in STEM fields are Black and no telling how even smaller the number is for Black women. Dr. Phillips’ accomplishment, however, will hopefully inspire more young, Black women to pursue degrees and potential STEM professions in the future.