Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Curriculum and Instruction
Maria M. Ferreira
AN EXPLORATION OF THE FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUCCESS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN PROFESSIONALS IN STEM-RELATED CAREERS
YOLANDE KRISTINE ALEXANDER NEALY
Advisor: Maria M. Ferreira
Major: Curriculum and Instruction; Science Education
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
This study examined factors that contribute to the success of African American professionals in STEM careers. Data were collected through a survey from 40 participants and in-depth interviews with eight of them. The survey was used to explore the participants’ educational experiences from elementary school through college and on their STEM-related careers, whereas the individual interviews were used to gain insights into their perspectives as STEM professionals.
The results of this study indicate that most of these African American STEM professionals attributed their choice of a STEM career to early exposure to and positive experiences in science and mathematics mediated by teachers and/or parents. Furthermore, the positive experiences and success in science and mathematics continued in high school and college, further solidifying their choice of a STEM career. However, for almost half of the participants, attending a HBCU seems to have played an important role in their enjoyment of and success in a STEM major. HBCUs provided them with role models and the necessary support and encouragement to succeed in their pursuit of a STEM degree.
The results of this study illustrate the various factors that play a role in preventing leakage in the minority STEM pipeline: K-12 experiences mediated by parents and teachers; support systems in college and the workplace mediated by counselors, professors, peers, and administrators; and policies that facilitate integration and the development of such support systems. This study contributes to the current body of knowledge on minorities in STEM by focusing on what works, instead of focusing on the deficit model and what does not work. It is hoped that these results help validate the efforts of those who work towards a more equitable representation of the STEM fields.
Alexander Nealy, Yolande Kristine, "An Exploration Of The Factors That Contribute To The Success Of African American Professionals In Stem-Related Careers" (2017). Wayne State University Dissertations. 1678.