To read this content please select one of the options below:

When talent goes unrecognized: racial discrimination, community recognition, and STEM postdocs’ science identities

Amanda J. Brockman (Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky, USA)
Dara E. Naphan-Kingery (Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico, USA)
Richard N. Pitt (Department of Sociology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Article publication date: 17 May 2022

Issue publication date: 25 May 2022




While science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) postdoctoral scholars often enter their positions with strong science identities, racially marginalized scholars are often not treated as scientists, which can weaken their science identities. This study aims to examine how racial discrimination negatively affects their science identities in STEM and the importance of community recognition in mitigating these effects.


The authors use reflected appraisals and identity theory to theoretically guide this work. The data are based on a survey of 215 postdoctoral scholars in STEM disciplines.


The authors find that community recognition mediates the negative relationship between perceived discrimination and postdoctoral scholars’ science identities.

Research limitations/implications

The study shows the importance of recognizing the achievements and identities of underrepresented STEM scholars to counteract the chronic and cumulative identity nonverification that leaves talent unrecognized and disrupts scholars’ science identities.


The authors explore the negative impact of discriminatory experiences on the importance individuals place on their identities as scientists and if this can be affected by the degree to which they feel that other scientists recognize them as competent scientists among a group of scholars who have earned the highest of academic degrees, and who are also relatively understudied: postdocs.



Funding: This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. HRD-1647196.


Brockman, A.J., Naphan-Kingery, D.E. and Pitt, R.N. (2022), "When talent goes unrecognized: racial discrimination, community recognition, and STEM postdocs’ science identities", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 221-241.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles