Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The author has requested that access to this graduate work be delayed until 2019-12-31. After this date, this graduate work will be available on an open access basis.
Black women in science: African American women completing doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--Obstacles and success strategies
by Mutahi, Teresa Theru, Ph.D., Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, 2014, 214; 3619189
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of African American women in their desire to enroll and complete STEM doctorate degrees—in particular, to answer the questions: (1) What are the obstacles and hindrances faced by African American women in their desire to enroll and complete a STEM doctorate degree? (2) What are the success strategies used by the African American women who overcame the barriers and completed STEM doctorate degrees? (3) What are the mentoring experiences of African American female STEM graduates?

Using symbolic interactionism, social cognitive career theory, and black feminism as theoretical frameworks, this study used a mixed methodology to address the research questions. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with nine participants who had completed their bachelor's degrees in a STEM field from an HBCU located in the South of the United States; three participants had completed a STEM PhD, three were enrolled in a STEM PhD, and three had not enrolled in a STEM PhD. The obstacles they faced, the success strategies used to overcome the barriers and their mentoring experiences were explored. A Web-based survey was conducted, and data from 42 respondents were analyzed.

Obstacles hindering enrollment were balancing life, career, and school, preference to work and make money as soon as possible, raising children, lack of financial aid and self-doubt. Obstacles during doctoral studies were lack of mentors/advisement, balancing life and career, raising children, lack of institutional and administrative support, academic and social integration, faculty tenure, isolation and loneliness, graduate school politics and research difficulties. Successful strategies that emerged related to doctoral completion were: be persistent, have a support system, choose an adviser wisely, continue to fight bias, stereotyping and judgmental factors, be in a community group, choose funding that compliments your research, self-motivation and spirituality. Most of the participants had negative graduate school mentoring experiences, and thirteen participants did not receive mentoring.

The study identified obstacles faced by African American female doctoral students and also highlights practical successful strategies applicable to maneuvering doctoral studies for aspiring graduate students of not only African American descent, but all races.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Meyinsse, Joseph A., Diack, Moustapha
Commitee: Bagayoko, Diola, Young, Luria
School: Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College
Department: Science and Mathematics Education (SMED)
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mathematics education, African American Studies, Womens studies, Science education
Keywords: African-american, Barriers, Doctorate, STEM, Success, Women
Publication Number: 3619189
ISBN: 9781303879463
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