African American Women Making Race Work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Galloway, Stephanie Nicole
    • Affiliation: School of Education
Abstract
  • African American women maintain distinctive social locations at the intersection of race, gender, and class (Crenshaw, 1991; Collins, 1986; 2000; Wing, 2003). However, their voices, interpretation of experiences, and concern with the use of formal education as a mechanism for racial uplift have not been priorities in feminist movements (hooks, 1981; 1989; Perkins, 1993; Smith, 1998; Spitzack & Carter, 1987). Alternatively, Black feminist thought (Collins, 1990; 2000) is a theory constructed by and for African American women. Given the consequences of pursuing formal education in the histories of African American women and the paucity of African American women represented in STEM fields, the purpose of this study was to (a) reveal how African American women conducting research in STEM disciplines accomplished their professional goals, (b) learn how the women negotiated their multiple identities (i.e. race, gender, and class), (c) link the history of educational experiences among African Americans with agendas for social justice, (d) understand how African American women in STEM align their personal accomplishments with broader agendas for activism in higher education, and (e) discover whether there is a collective identity that successful African American women in STEM share. Using Black feminist thought (Collins, 1986; 2000) and narrative analysis of semi- interviews with eight African American women in STEM, the findings from this study revealed: (a) the women in this study described the challenges of pursuing a career in STEM from a feminist perspective, identifying gender as more significant than race; (b) the women in this study experienced more positive interactions with Black male, White female, and White male mentors than with Black female mentors; (c) the women in this study described the use of empowering strategies for overcoming obstacles in their academic pathways; and (d) their collective academic identities were formed by early interactions with members of their academic communities and early exposure to the cultural norms of their academic disciplines. These findings have implications for how Black feminist thought explicates the complex, assorted experiences of highly successful African American women in STEM and how the social construction of academic identities evolves during the course of formalized education.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Noblit, George W.
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012
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