Navigating STEM-Worlds: Applying a Lens of Intersectionality to the Career Identity Development of Underrepresented Female Students of Color
Knowing that female students of color are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is not enough. This paper will discuss the need for an intersectionality lens when considering how to retain talented female students of color in university STEM programs. Researchers and practitioners must focus on how students develop their social, academic, and intellectual identities as they become a scientist, doctor, or engineer. This includes the development of their core identity-- perceptions they have of themselves as well as perceptions of those with whom they work and interact. One of the main obstacles researchers and practitioners face includes how to help students adapt to the norms of STEM-worlds (classrooms and work environments related to STEM) as they proceed through the path to becoming a STEM professional. The paper will also discuss the term intersectional trap. This is defined as the act of saying blanket statements to describe a race or group of individuals without considering variations of experience within the population. The paper will end with recommendations for research focusing on qualitative studies that explore the lived experiences of students as they form their STEM identities.