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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Family matters: Familial support and science identity formation for African American female STEM majors
by Parker, Ashley Dawn, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2013, 183; 3594079
Abstract (Summary)

This research seeks to understand the experiences of African American female undergraduates in STEM. It investigates how familial factors and science identity formation characteristics influence persistence in STEM while considering the duality of African American women's status in society. This phenomenological study was designed using critical race feminism as the theoretical framework to answer the following questions: 1) What role does family play in the experiences of African American women undergraduate STEM majors who attended two universities in the UNC system? 2) What factors impact the formation of science identity for African American women undergraduate STEM majors who attended two universities in the UNC system?

Purposive sampling was used to select the participants for this study. The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 10 African American female undergraduate STEM major from a predominantly White and a historically Black institution with the state of North Carolina public university system. Findings suggest that African American families and science identity formation influence the STEM experiences of the African American females interviewed in this study. The following five themes emerged from the findings: (1) independence, (2) support, (3) pressure to succeed, (4) adaptations, and (5) race and gender.

This study contributes to the literature on African American female students in STEM higher education. The findings of this study produced knowledge regarding policies and practices that can lead to greater academic success and persistence of African American females in higher education in general, and STEM majors in particular. Colleges and universities may benefit from the findings of this study in a way that allows them to develop and sustain programs and policies that attend to the particular concerns and needs of African American women on their campuses. Finally, this research informs both current and future African American female STEM students so that they might benefit from the knowledge of the experiences of others in STEM-related fields. As a result, other African American female students might be enlightened by these stories and have the confidence to pursue a STEM degree of their own.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mickelson, Roslyn A.
Commitee: Coffey, Heather, Merriweather, Lisa, Stearns, Elizabeth A.
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies, Individual & family studies, Science education
Keywords: African American women, Familial factors, Family support, North Carolina, Race feminism, Science identity formation, Status, Undergraduate STEM majors
Publication Number: 3594079
ISBN: 978-1-303-37688-7
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