Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
We analyzed how the experiences of Black engineering and computing doctoral students were impacted by stereotype-based interactions with their peers which involved microagressions, blatant racism, and/or exclusion. This study uses the theoretical frameworks of institutional racism (institutional-level racism embedded specifically within STEM which positions Black students as impostors) and impostor syndrome (individualized feelings of being an impostor within the institutional climate) as guiding theoretical frameworks. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 23 Black PhD students about their doctoral experiences, in which instances of stereotype-led peer interactions emerged across nearly all interviews. Respondents described how 1) their racial underrepresentation and 2) stereotype-based interactions with White, Asian, and international peers challenged their sense of belonging within their departments. Stereotyped-based interactions occurred one-on-one through microagressions and blatant racism with their peers and in small groups required for collaborative research. When they were not excluded from study groups altogether, their inclusion was contingent upon repeatedly confirming their intellect and assuring that the group could benefit from their contributions. Their underrepresentation and opposition from their peers positioned them as intellectual imposters, deemed unworthy of full incorporation within the institutional climate. They responded by working harder to prove their intellectual worth as well as an attempt to combat the blowback of being racially stereotyped. Such individual efforts to both succeed and combat institututionalized racism are psychologically taxing and can ultimately detract from focusing on the academic work at hand and even increase attrition from these academic spaces. This research affirms the need to instate initiatives at the institutional or departmental level to make engineering and computing programs more inclusive spaces for diverse students and to combat/minimize the types of exclusionary practices seen in this research. A focus on student-centered initiatives could positively impact the retention of talented students within doctoral programs.
Ridgeway, M. L., & McGee, E. O., & Naphan-Kingery, D. E., & Brockman, A. J. (2018, April), Black Engineering and Computing Doctoral Students' Peer Interaction that Foster Racial Isolation Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29519
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