A Strengths-Based Study of Black Women in STEM

December 17, 2018

#BlackGirlMagic: The Identity Conceptualization of Black Women in Undergraduate STEM Education,” a qualitative study in Science Education, takes an in-depth look at how race and gender impact a small group of undergraduate women’s identity as scientists. The paper’s authors say their approach is notable in that they focused on the strengths of underrepresented minority women in the natural sciences, technology, engineering and math. Much of the existing research on the topic focuses instead on the hurdles these women face in STEM, the authors say. An analysis of interview and journal data revealed that these women enter STEM “cognizant of their race and gender identities, naming them in isolation and intersectionally as a potential risk or as being protective, positive, and empowering for their STEM engagement.”

“The women understand their identity to be both socially regulated and self-determined,” lead author Terrell Morton, the Preparing Future Faculty postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri at Columbia, said in a statement. “This means that they recognize that society feels a certain way about black women and pictures them in certain roles. However, the women also saw themselves as successful and resilient because they are thriving in a field that society tells them they shouldn't be in.”

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