African American Women In Stem: Uncovering Stories Of Persistence And Resilience Through An Examination Of Social And Cultural Capital
MetadataShow full item record
Type of WorkText
DepartmentAdvanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy
RightsThis item is made available by Morgan State University for personal, educational, and research purposes in accordance with Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Other uses may require permission from the copyright owner.
SubjectsAfrican American Women
African American Studies
Minorities In Stem
Science And Engineering
The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the key factors that successful African American women said influenced their persistence and resilience in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field at two key time periods; before beginning post-secondary education and during post-secondary education. Many researchers have expressed concern about missing out on the creativity and innovation of African American women that could be used to enhance or lead to scientific discoveries (Hanson, 2004; Ong et al., 2011; Perna et al., 2008). While there has been a fair amount of research on the lack of representation of African American women in the STEM field, it is very limited in its breathe and depth. Very few of these studies include the “voice” of African American women and most of the studies rely heavily on quantitative data. Therefore in this study, I used a qualitative, case study approach to interpret the stories of eight African American women currently working in a variety of STEM fields to understand how each of the factors that they said aided in their persistence and resilience related to the concepts of social and cultural capital. Furthermore, this study investigated the role cultural brokers played in their lives and the strategies these women used to create resilience. Narratives for each woman were created to provide insight into their experiences. Before beginning post-secondary education four themes emerged from this study; 1. Two parent households were important, 2. Science experiences outside of school sparked their interest, 3. All of the women participated in extracurricular activities, and 4. Religion was important. Cultural brokers were beneficial for some but not all of the women. During post-secondary education five themes emerged; 1. The majority of the women had a desire to help others, 2. Scholarships played an important role, 3. Parents were supportive, 4. Sexism/racism became evident, and 5. Religion was still important. During this time period cultural brokers were important for all of the women. The results of this study suggest that experiences outside of school are more important than experiences inside of school.