Unethical practices in STEM

“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” – Stephen Jay Gould

Victims of Unethical practices in STEM

  • Alice Ball – Her research resulted in an injection that would become the first effective treatment for Leprosy. It was used as the primary treatment for the disease across the globe for approximately 20 years, however she died due to a lab accident before she could publish her work, leading to the racist head of the university she worked at stealing her findings and claiming them as their own for almost a century
  • BBC article on racial bias in cancer – Results find that black women with breast cancer suffer from higher death rates and that research carried out mainly on white women can produce skewed data. 
  • Dr. Chien-Shing Wu – A team she lead received a Nobel Prize in Physics after discovering the weak interaction violated parity however Dr. Wu herself was denied the honour due to a mix of racism and sexism.  
  • HeLa Cells – Henrietta Lack’s biological material was stolen from her corpse by a racist researcher and would eventually start a multi-billion dollar industry.  Meanwhile she died of cancer and to this day her family remain too poor to afford proper medical care. 
  • Forbes article on race and how it relates to quality of health care in America – Article finds that POC are more likely to be living on lower incomes in America and that poorer people have less access to adequate medical care. 
  • Huffingtion Post article on Race and Healthcare – Article finds that in 2017 the socio-economical issues that disproportionately affect POC lead to widespread unequal medical treatment in America. 
  • Institute of medicine article on race and quality of healthcare – Landmark report showing that minority patients are less likely to receive the same quality of health care as white patients.
  • Racial Bias in pain assessment and quality of health care for people of colour [Download] – Study on the US National Institute of Health website which presents how black people are victims of the false beliefs about biological differences between black people and white people, and these views are associated with racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment recommendations.
  • Dr. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar – Was berated by his racist PhD supervisor (Arthur Eddingtion) due to being an Indian immigrant. Caused him to leave the Physics despite being correct in all his theories and contributing to contemporary understanding of at least 12 major topics within physics including: Stellar structure, stellar dynamics and white dwarfs, gravitational waves, quantum theory of the hydrogen anion, general relativity, radiative transfer, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability.

Examples of Unethical practices in STEM

  • Arthur Eddington – A racist who berated Dr. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in public for years plunging the field of Stellar Physics into a standstill for 60 years before Dr. Chandrasekhar’s work was recognised as correct.
  • Edwin Hubble – A racist who spent a majority of his time campaigning against letting any POC into higher education as he believed them to be akin to animals.
  • J. Marion Sims – A racist gynecologist who experimented on enslaved black women without anesthetic because he did not believe they could feel pain.
  • James Watson – Stole the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA from Rosalind Franklin and then used his position to be racist and claim that people of colour – especially black people – are genetically inferior to white people. 
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments Beginning in 1932 the American Government would inject Syphilis into enslaved black people and leave it untreated to study how the disease spread throughout the body. This lead to (at best) the completely unwarranted suffering of thousands with the disease for years, and countless deaths.