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Race-Based Stereotypes Hamper STEM Participation Among African-American Women

October 02, 2014

Although black women may show more interest in STEM majors than white women as they enter college, they are less likely to earn a degree in those fields according to new research in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. In “Ethnic Variation in Gender-STEM Stereotypes and STEM Participation: An Intersectional Approach,” the authors analyze data from more than 1.7 million college freshmen between 1990 and 1999, finding that both black women and black men initially say they planned to major in STEM fields at higher rates than their white counterparts. Although black women were twice as likely to declare a major in a STEM field, more white women graduate with STEM degrees, prompting the authors to suggest that black women may face “unique barriers” in their pursuit, such as race-based stereotypes.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, which summarizes the article, notes that more research is needed to identify precisely which “unique barriers” create obstacles for black women hoping to obtain degrees in STEM-related fields. Read the article…

inclusion, stem, education, higher ed