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The Urgency of Intersectionality: A Review of Racialized Experiences in STEM Entrepreneurship

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Jocelyn L. Jackson University of Michigan

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Jocelyn Jackson is a second year doctoral student in Engineering Education at the University of Michigan and National Chair of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Her major work includes improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM and entrepreneurship as well as strategic planning for NSBE. She earned a MS and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University.

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Aileen Huang-Saad Northeastern University

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In February 2021 Dr. Huang-Saad joined the Bioengineering faculty at Northeastern University and became the Director
of Life Sciences and Engineering Programs at The Roux Institute (Portland, Maine). Dr. Huang-Saad has a fourteen-
year history of bringing about organizational change in higher education, leveraging evidence-based practices
at University of Michigan. She created the U-M BME graduate design program, co-founded the U-M College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship, launched the U-M National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Node,
and developed the U-M BME Instructional Incubator. She is a canonical instructor for both the NSF and National
Institute of Health (NIH) I-Corps Programs. Dr. Huang- Saad has received numerous awards for her teaching and
student advising, including the 1938E College of Engineering Award, the Thomas M. Sawyer, Jr. Teaching Award, the
U-M ASEE Outstanding Professor Award, the International Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award, and the College of
Engineering Outstanding Student Advisor Award. Aileen has worked in the private sector gaining experience in biotech, defense, and medical device testing at large companies and start-ups. Aileen’s current research areas include entrepreneurship engineering education, impact and engaged learning. Aileen has a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate of Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

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Joi-lynn Mondisa University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Joi Mondisa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering and an Engineering Education Faculty Member at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. Dr. Mondisa holds a PhD in Engineering Education, an MS in Industrial Engineering, an MBA, and a BS in General Engineering. She researches STEM mentoring experiences and mentoring intervention programs in higher education.

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In the 1980s, businesses in the United States experienced an increased interest in entrepreneurship which created a significant growth in innovation through entrepreneurship education and programming. This growth influenced the creation of new federal policies (e.g., the Bayh–Dole Act) and government agencies’ programming (e.g., SBIR, STTR and I-Corps) that sparked innovation to help drive the U.S. economy forward. Although there has been a significant push for entrepreneurship and innovation, there is still a lack of representation of racially minoritized populations (i.e., African Americans or Blacks, Hispanics/Latinx and Native Americans and Alaskan Natives) in entrepreneurship, innovation, and science technology engineering and math (STEM) fields. In 2012, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy found that of the 27,626,360 U.S. business owners, racially minoritized business owners only accounted for less than 11% of all U.S. business. This representation is even lower within STEM Entrepreneurship, which is defined as individuals in STEM disciplines who practice entrepreneurship or innovation as business owners or starting a new venture (i.e., people interested in new venture initiatives). There are several known disparities and diversity gaps within STEM and entrepreneurship that affect women, people of color, and low-income populations that previous research has focused on understanding and improving.

We present a literature review of research pertaining to STEM entrepreneurship and Intersectionality Theory. Intersectionality emerges from critical legal studies and posits that socially-constructed categories (e.g., race, gender, and class) intersect and influence the experiences of individuals. As an analytical tool, intersectionality is used to understand and examine the organization of power and people's complex experiences by exploring the intersections of a person's social and political identities. It’s become a critical approach to study the experiences of racially minoritized populations to better understand and address their unique experiences and challenges. We summarize how the experiences of racially minoritized individuals in STEM entrepreneurship are studied and provide an overview of the frameworks used and research studies’ outcomes. First, we conducted a literature review search using Scopus and ProQuest to include literature on underrepresented populations’ experiences in STEM entrepreneurship using a combination of the STEM, entrepreneurship, diversity, and experience search strings. There were 772 results that were further explored. We then applied all inclusion and exclusion criteria to this literature review search and removed all duplicates. This resulted in nine remaining articles that studied the experiences of racially minoritized populations in STEM entrepreneurship; however none of these articles referenced intersectionality or used intersectionality as a framework to examine the experiences of racially minoritized populations. This resulted in many of the research findings being limited and failing to address the unique barriers that racially minoritized populations confront in STEM Entrepreneurship. There has been little advancement with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion for racially minoritized populations in STEM entrepreneurship. Thus, we propose that Intersectionality Theory will help to better understand the complex intersecting identities that shape social inequality and the experiences of marginalized groups.

Jackson, J. L., & Huang-Saad, A., & Mondisa, J. (2021, July), The Urgency of Intersectionality: A Review of Racialized Experiences in STEM Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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