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Exploring the Intersectionality of Science and Racial Identity through Graduate Student Experiences Sylvia Hurtado Minh Tran Felisha Herrera Josephine.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring the Intersectionality of Science and Racial Identity through Graduate Student Experiences Sylvia Hurtado Minh Tran Felisha Herrera Josephine."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring the Intersectionality of Science and Racial Identity through Graduate Student Experiences Sylvia Hurtado Minh Tran Felisha Herrera Josephine Gasiewski Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA ASHE 2010 – Indianapolis, IL

2 Science & Social Identity Conflict Socialization into STEM requires students to assimilate into the narrow, exclusive, and objective disciplinary culture. URMs experience tension because they must detach their racial identity from their identity as developing scientists. “You just don’t see a lot of African Americans in engineering or STEM fields. It’s a conflict because, even within the academy itself, there’s people who question, you know, your ability. - Sean(Black Male, Mechanical Engineering)

3 Sexual Orientation Nationality/ Immigration Status Religion/ Spirituality Mental/Physical Ability Race/ Ethnicity Gender Culture Socioeconomic Status Science Identity Science Identity Development Model Multiple Contexts Societal Family/Community Science Science Context Interactions with faculty/peers in science Institution/ disciplinary culture Lab/classroom environments Adapted from: Jones & McEwen (2000)

4 Science Identity & Social Identity Science identity – External and internal recognition Social identity – gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion/spirituality, and mental and physical ability. Motivated to learn science to make sense their position in relation to the natural & physical world. “I think I became interested in science just as a way to understand my surroundings. I grew up on an Indian reservation so I saw a lot of death and a lot of disease and things like that going on when I was growing up. My interest was, like I said, was to understand my environment and try to get a feel for the underlying causes of the things I was seeing.” - Landon (American Indian Male, Molecular Biology)

5 Methods December 2009 to April hours of semi-structured focus group interviews 7 universities across US 3 PWIs, 3 HSIs, 1 HBCU 150 masters/doctoral students 35% African Americans 21% White 25% Latino/a 9% Asian Americans 5% American Indian 5% who marked other 50% women average age 27.5 (range of years old)

6 Negotiating Identity Conflicts/Tensions Previous research on identities use a deficit cognitive frame. Alternatively, this study uses an anti-deficit framework (Harper, 2007). Successful URM graduate students who have persisted through the STEM pipeline. Negotiation Strategies to Reconcile Identity Conflicts 1.Wearing different hats within multiple contexts 2.Simplifying science: Making science accessible 3.Redefining science in terms of community & justice

7 “So I do think they interact all the time, but I think being in science and even as a student with an identity, I think they just blend. I think sometimes putting on your hat at this certain place is okay. Okay, now I have to [put on another hat because] now I’m with this group.” - Benjamin (Latino, Industrial Engineering) “I feel like I’m two different people when I’m at home and when I’m here at graduate school.” – Julia (Black Female, Genetics) “So, I find myself often downplaying it with even extended family or when I go to my hometown hair salon. And they're like, wow, you're going to be a doctor, right? And I'm like, oh, it's no big deal. It's just a Ph.D. and it's just another degree. And it's gonna help me get this job that I wanted.” – Madeline (Black Female, Health/Biology)

8 “My family definitely cares. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to bring them along, explain the whole process of science and basically start at square one.” - Eric (Latino, Ecology) “One of my goals in getting a PhD is to develop a language to talk to people that don’t understand science – I want science to be more accessible so that people aren’t afraid of it. If I’m in the American Indian community, I always say diabetes because it’s one of the biggest things. So that’ll catch somebody’s ear and maybe they’ll be more interested. I have this story that I’ve made up where instead of talking about proteins I talk about zombies and that the misfolded proteins are zombies and they’re affecting people that are coming into the city. That’s a fun way for me to talk about what I do and people’s eyes don’t glaze over.” - Carson (American Indian Male, Bioinformatics)

9 “I did research at the School of Public Health. I worked with a Latina physician, who opened my eyes to sort of a population- based approach to health as opposed to a one-on-one individual commission approach. I enjoyed her approach to problems that I sort of grew up with on the border, in terms of environmental health conditions. That's what inspired me in graduate school.” - Jackson (Latino, Public Health) “My identity is fused with my work. It’s important for me to address issues that affect African Americans and to understand how to treat issues that Black people deal with.” - (Black, Female, Psychology)

10 Contact Information Acknowledgments: This study was made possible by the support of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH Grant Numbers 1 R01 GMO and R01 GMO as well as the National Science Foundation, NSF Grant Number This independent research and the views expressed here do not indicate endorsement by the sponsors. Papers and reports are available for download at: Project Faculty and Co-PIs: Sylvia Hurtado Mitchell Chang Monica Lin Gina Garcia Felisha Herrera Postdoctoral Scholars: Kevin Eagan Josephine Gasiewski Administrative Staff: Aaron Pearl Graduate Research Assistants: Christopher Newman Minh Tran Jessica Sharkness Cindy Mosqueda Juan Garibay Tanya Figueroa


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