Crystal City, Virginia
April 14, 2019
April 14, 2019
April 22, 2019
Diversity and Graduate Education
Keywords: Graduate, Race/Ethnicity, & Gender
Intersectional perspectives: Interpersonal contributors to moments of doubt for graduate women of color in STEM
To date, empirical efforts designed to broaden STEM participation focus largely on single identity markers (e.g., gender). However, scholars such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins have urged researchers to examine new categories of analysis that are inclusive of interlocking structures of oppression.
Consequently, the present study takes an intersectional approach to obtain the necessary, more nuanced understanding of the factors that stymie persistence intentions among those who hold multiple marginalized identities. Specifically, we examine the daily interpersonal encounters that influence women of color’s (i.e., African American, Latinx, and Native American) decision to complete a STEM doctorate.
We present the results of three focus groups, comprised of a total of 11 graduate women of color (WoC) pursuing their doctorates in the Physical Sciences and Engineering (e.g., chemistry, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, industrial engineering, etc). Each focus group was one-hour and was conducted using an online-video conferencing platform. Participants self-identified as Hispanic (N=8) and Black (N=3).
Preliminary results suggest that the participants’ credibility and legitimacy were repeatedly questioned because of their gender, gender expression, and racial identities. For example, WoC experienced differential treatment in lab settings, were accused of getting national fellowships because ‘they could check more than one box,’ experienced frequent encounters of sexual harassment, and were frequently asked to take on formal roles as diversity representatives in their programs. Participants also described the cultural ramifications of choosing a lifestyle that counters the traditional expectations of women in their cultures.
The complete paper (and associated presentation) will include the full results of this study, implications for practice and theory, along with practitioner-focused recommendations for retention and recruitment efforts.
Wilkins-Yel, K. G., & Bernstein, B. L., & Bekki, J. M., & Reed, A. J. (2019, April), Intersectional Perspectives: Interpersonal Contributors to Moments of Doubt for Graduate Women of Color in STEM Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/31774
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