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date: 10 December 2022

Centering Young Black Women’s and Girls’ Voices in STEM Participation in the United Stateslocked

Centering Young Black Women’s and Girls’ Voices in STEM Participation in the United Stateslocked

  • Kara Mitchell, Kara MitchellVanderbilt University
  • Carla WellbornCarla WellbornVanderbilt University
  •  and Chezare WarrenChezare WarrenVanderbilt University

Summary

There has been growing scholarly interest in Black girls’ and young women’s matriculation across the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline. This interest is fueled by the STEM field’s maintenance of a largely White and male culture, despite the passage of Title IX laws in the 1970s. This exploration of Black women’s and girls’ STEM participation has been incredibly important for extending what is known about this group. Less discernible from the extant literature is Black women’s and girls’ first-person sensemaking about the moments, people, incidents, and environments that determine not just their participation but also their persistence into and through higher education to complete a STEM undergraduate degree.

The language of trajectories implicates life course, growth, and development in ability over time with age and experience. The various environments influencing young Black women’s and girls’ learning about STEM, and their decisions about how or if to participate in STEM, are informed by constantly evolving understandings of their intersectional race–gender identity. This identity is changing over time as they grow older and come into contact with various STEM learning opportunities, people, and places. Young Black women and girls are keenly aware of race–gender limitations imposed on them by dominant cultural norms, institutional agents, and experiences with institutional policy and practice. Such perspectives are shaping how they come to view themselves aside from STEM and the decisions they make at each point on the STEM pipeline specific to their desire to own a STEM identity despite their subject position as a race–gender minoritized person in STEM subjects and majors.

Subjects

  • Education, Cultures, and Ethnicities
  • Education, Gender, and Sexualities

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