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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


This volume's birth sprang forth from a conference, “Beyond Stock Stories and Folktales: African Americans and the Pipeline to the Professoriate, An Evidence-based Examination of STEM Fields,” on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, and was sponsored by that university and the National Science Foundation. Initially, the conference invitees were charged to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and African American males. In particular, as co-organizers, we sought to assemble a group of scholars to discuss the evidentiary base associated with programs, policy, and practices purported to positively influence STEM outcomes for African American males. Our concern for African American males emanated from policy analyses that characterized the plight of African American males in terms of personal and social cost–benefit terms. For instance, using California as a basis, one cost–benefit estimate of that state's educational attainment trends indicate that each additional Black male “expected high school graduate” will earn $520,000 more over his lifetime than a school dropout counterpart. In addition, the social gains associated with each expected Black male high school graduate was estimated to be $681,130. One can only imagine what those gains are when projections model Black males who have attained college degrees, and particularly advanced graduate degrees in specialized STEM fields. Our thinking as conference organizers evolved with respect to focusing all of the conference papers on African American males only. Specifically, our review of the literature suggested that a more careful examination of how STEM outcomes for African Americans were influenced by gender was warranted. To address this perspective, we also solicited contributions that included gender-based analyses, where commonalities and differences by gender in STEM pathways for African Americans might be highlighted and better understood.


Frierson, H.T. and Tate, W.F. (2011), "Preface", 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. xv-xviii.



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