Discipline: Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Danielle Dickens - Spelman College
Co-Author(s): Naomi Hall-Byers, Winston Salem State University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Maria Jones, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
Black women in STEM encounter not only racism but also sexism which poses barriers, known as sticky floors, which hampers their career advancement. To cope with experiences of discrimination and to contest the negative consequences associated with discrimination, Black women may alter their behaviors and how they talk (code switch) to fit in within a given environment, through what is known as identity shifting. The primary theoretical frameworks utilized in the current study includes intersectionality and phenomenological variant of ecological systems theory (PVEST). The critical theory of intersectionality is used to understand the intertwining oppression of race and gender, among other identities. Research indicates that the intersection of being Black and a woman are visible identities that impose limitations of other people’s perceptions of Black women and perceptions of the self among Black women. PVEST posits that an individual’s perceptions of societal expectations, cultural stereotypes, and biases influence how one will adapt to different cultural contexts across the lifespan. The current studies aim to develop a valid measurement to assess identity shifting among a sample of Black women in STEM. Based on previous work, interviews were conducted with early career Black women and measurement items were created from the major tenets and themes of identity shifting from the interviews. Next, the 44 item Shifting Scale for Black Women was administered to a focus group of Black women to obtain their reactions to the measurement items. In 2019, data from 350 Black women enrolled in STEM undergraduate and graduate programs across various types of institutions (HBCUs and PWIs) and Black women employed full time in STEM fields completed the developed 87-item identity shifting scale. Exploratory factor analyses will be conducted to determine how and to what extent the item measurements are linked to specific constructs or sub-scales. Next, data collection will begin in 2020 to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis to test for good construct and concurrent validity. Preliminary findings support the utility and cultural relevance of identity shifting among Black women in STEM, which can be used to inform programmatic decisions in graduate programs and facilitate interventions that promote healthy identity development among Black women in STEM education and careers.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): National Science Foundation
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,
NSF Affiliation: HBCU-UP