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Paths To Discovery: Chicanas In Mathematics, Science, And Engineering.

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Focus on Under-Represented Women

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.965.1 - 13.965.8



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Paper Authors

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Lupita Montoya Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Cleopatria Martinez Phoenix College

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Paths to Discovery: Chicanas in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering.


Lack of participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields from underrepresented minority students is a recognized problem in higher education. Institutions around the country have developed a plethora of plans and strategies to promote these fields and attract this population. Participation from minority women in STEM often poses additional challenges, and however well intentioned these efforts, we are still not seeing much improvement in this area. Often, policies are put in place to “encourage” these students to pursue these majors at the undergraduate and even graduate levels. The success of any such efforts, we propose, must be linked to an acknowledgement that these students have their own life circumstances that may affect not only their choice of major, but the very decision of whether to pursue a college degree. Ignoring these important circumstances and evaluating these students with the same standards of achievement that mainstream students with many fewer obstacles to overcome, often eliminates highly capable students from opportunities that are solely based on quantitative evaluations. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many bright young minds still get turned away from these fields by careless comments or erroneous assessments of their intellectual abilities. Our goal is to make reference to experiences as identified by the authors of a book titled Paths of Discovery: Chicanas in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. These authors wrote autobiographical essays addressing simple but critical issues they had to face on the road to their chosen fields. What determine the character of a person are her experiences. A person able to work and solve problems on her own and without direction, we propose, has the distinctive characteristics that contribute to innovation, learning, and creativity. Our most important goal, however, is to urge the engineering and scientific community to engage in an honest and substantive discussion of what is truly necessary if we are to level the playing field in higher education and harness all the potential in our young students.


The Adelante! Project originated as a focused effort in 2003 from a group of dedicated veteran Chicana Scientists and within the context of the annual meeting of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (Women Active in Literature and Social Change -MALCS). This initial effort resulted in a book describing the career paths of nine Chicanas in STEM fields; the book was titled Flor y Ciencia: Chicanas in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. The 2006 publication of this book was sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a second edition is expected for the summer of 2008 under the auspices of the Chicano Studies Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. The authors wrote autobiographical essays addressing simple but critical issues such as mentorship, childhood and interest in their chosen fields. Authors illustrated the diverse paths that may lead to a career in science, engineering and ultimately, academia. Important turning points in these paths are

Montoya, L., & Martinez, C. (2008, June), Paths To Discovery: Chicanas In Mathematics, Science, And Engineering. Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4207

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