On SAGE Insight: (Un)Hidden Figures: A Synthesis of Research Examining the Intersectional Experiences of Black Women and Girls in STEM Education

Special issue: The Challenges and Possibilities of Intersectionality in Education Research

From Review of Research in Education

This literature review demonstrated the importance and utility of intersectionality as a theoretical and methodological approach to understanding the educational experiences of Black women and girls in STEM and discussed the psychology of intersectionality in STEM education. The review was conducted using a three-phase data collection process. The searches resulted in 1,290 unique sources, which were worked collaboratively to reduce through an iterative process of screening abstracts and full text documents.

 

This analysis encourages researchers and professionals in STEM education to consider how an understanding of intersectional experiences can advance their scholarship and practice toward a future where Black women and girls are unhidden figures and all students feel encouraged to fulfill their highest academic potential.

Abstract

In this chapter, we argue that intersectionality is a theoretical and methodological framework by which education researchers can critically examine why and how students in STEM fields who are members of intersecting marginalized groups have distinctive experiences related to their social identities, other psychological processes, and educational outcomes. Taken separately, the bodies of education research focused on the experiences of Black students and female students in STEM fields often render Black women and girls “hidden figures” in that they have not sufficiently addressed their simultaneous racialized and gendered experiences in educational contexts. Additionally, we find that the current discourse on intersectionality is limited in that it does not attend to key psychological processes associated with identity and the intersectional experience in STEM education. We take a theoretical and methodological approach to examining intersectionality in STEM education and provide a new interpretation of the literature on Black women and girls in this social context. A synthesis of (N = 60) research studies revealed that (1) identity; (2) STEM interest, confidence, and persistence; (3) achievement, ability perceptions, and attributions; and (4) socializers and support systems are key themes within the experiences of Black women and girls in STEM education. Our analysis also highlights the ways that researchers have employed intersectionality to make the experiences of Black women and girls in STEM education more visible, or “unhidden.” We discuss these findings from a psychological perspective and provide insights to guide future research and practice directions in STEM education.

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Article details

(Un)Hidden Figures: A Synthesis of Research Examining the Intersectional Experiences of Black Women and Girls in STEM Education
Danyelle T. Ireland, Kimberley Edelin Freeman, Cynthia E. Winston-Proctor, Kendra D. DeLaine, Stacey McDonald Lowe, Kamilah M. Woodson
First Published April 5, 2018
DOI: 10.3102/0091732X18759072
Review of Research in Education

 

     
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