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Chapter 9 Successful PHD Pathways to Advanced STEM Careers for Black Women

Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans' Paths to STEM Fields

ISBN: 978-1-78052-168-8, eISBN: 978-1-78052-183-1

Publication date: 23 September 2011


According to national statistics, small numbers of black American women earn science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees. Instead of focusing on this disturbing, well-documented trend, this chapter explores STEM career success among black female graduate students who enroll in and complete PhD programs. In other words, we are engaged in an effort to address how black women in STEM fields succeed in graduate school. This chapter presents a qualitative look at successful PhD pathways. It will provide data on the pipeline of black women at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels; describe programs that the state of Maryland has employed among its public research universities to recruit and retain black women in doctoral programs; present testimonials from black women who have participated in these programs; and offer an extensive case study of 15 black women alumni of these programs who now have PhDs and are establishing their STEM careers. Programs that will be documented as successful for recruiting, mentoring, and retaining black women in STEM include the National Science Foundation's (NSF) University System of Maryland Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to the Doctorate program; the NSF's PROMISE: Maryland's Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program for UMBC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences (Minority Biomedical Research Support – Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (MBRS-IMSD)) at UMBC and UMB; and subprograms such as the Dissertation House (DH), the Community Building Retreat, and the PROF-it: Professors-in-Training program. The case study will include the following questions: What were some of the obstacles that occurred during graduate school, and what helped you to overcome them? Were there any issues that occurred that made you want to quit? If you stopped for a while, or thought about stopping, what were your motivations for returning? Where did you receive mentoring during your graduate school process? What advice would you give to young women who are just starting? The chapter focuses on a variety of methods and practices that successfully shepherd black women from undergraduate ranks to PhD-level careers in STEM fields.


Rutledge, J.C., Carter-Veale, W.Y. and Tull, R.G. (2011), "Chapter 9 Successful PHD Pathways to Advanced STEM Careers for Black Women", Frierson, H.T. and Tate, W.F. (Ed.) Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans' Paths to STEM Fields (Diversity in Higher Education, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 165-209.



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