Table of contents(15 chapters)
Some Black men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) may struggle academically in institutions that are racially hostile, unfriendly, and unwelcoming to students of color, or lacking a “critical mass” upon whom Black men can rely for support and advice – predominantly white institutions (PWIs). One hundred and forty Black male collegians who graduated from one of five local PWIs were administered a questionnaire to measure aspects of experiences in college. We test the role that grit plays in explaining the academic success of Black male collegians in STEM disciplines who graduated from four-year PWIs. Findings show sustained effort and hard work over time, despite setback or failure, are, in part, the formula for Black males' academic success at university. Despite where they begin in terms of college readiness, Black males who exert more grit than their peers earn better grades. Finally, isolated or one-time attempts to work hard or study long hours will likely have little to no influence on Black males' academic success.
This chapter proposes a research model with the potential to solve the pressing problem of the underrepresentation of Blacks in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The underrepresentation problem can be addressed at two points. The first being the graduation point where Blacks are significantly underrepresented among STEM graduates. According to 2016 NSF data, Blacks were awarded just 6.2% of US STEM degrees. This was a 16% decrease from 2004 levels. The second point is the STEM work environments is an employment climate perceived as unwelcoming for Blacks which often leads to higher attrition of mainly Black males, but Black females are affected as well. This chapter deals only with the intervention strategies that will address the underrepresentation of Black students among STEM graduates.
The need for effective STEM education interventions aimed at improving academic outcomes for Black students in STEM has been articulated by many. This chapter explores how the NIH's model of translational research can be applied to the development of interventions aimed at improving the academic outcomes of Black STEM students. Using the principles of translational research, the authors of this chapter report how they had developed a STEM teaching and assessment intervention that resulted in improving the Introductory Biology scores in one section at a historically Black college and university (HBCU) to a 72% average compared to the 50% average of all the other peer sections. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the requirements for a solutions approach to the pressing problem of the underrepresentation of Blacks in STEM fields.
Based on the theoretical and scientific literature, academic and career decisions to pursue STEM fields are made at the high school level, and Black high school students are more likely to participate in career and technical education (CTE) programs but are less likely to participate in CTE programs related to STEM. Additionally, Black male students are less likely to have taken the necessary prerequisites to pursue STEM fields in postsecondary education. As a result, Black male high school students are underprepared to pursue STEM college majors and careers.
However, when students participate in STEM high school CTE programs (e.g., career academies), they eventually attain STEM occupations. In this chapter, we will examine the role that high school career academies play, from the perspectives of school stakeholders, in addressing the talent pipeline by broadening the participation of Black males in STEM majors and careers.
In this chapter, we present a case study that explicates the work that two Black boys undergo to write their narratives despite the low expectations of their academic abilities espoused by their White teacher. Orienting ourselves within a critical race theory framework, we relied upon storytelling to tell the stories of John and Seth, two young Black boys whose science interests fueled their engagement across school subjects despite the semantic deficit-oriented positioning of their academic abilities by the White teachers and staff within their school. Throughout this chapter, we center their experiences to argue that understanding the inherent underrepresentation of Black men in science-based professions requires an examination of the pivotal educational moments preceding this disparity. Rich and culturally responsive science teaching may support equity for Black boys, but John and Seth's stories illustrate that these practices alone will only perpetuate the status quo unless teachers challenge their dispositions regarding who their students are and what they are capable of. We conclude by offering suggestions for practitioners to consider when designing and implementing equitable student-centered science instruction.
Research studies indicate African American males face multiple and reinforcing obstacles by choosing to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related majors and professions. Though participation in STEM fields has increased, African American males remain underrepresented in STEM academic programs and occupations as a whole, and in the computing sciences specifically. In the STEM field of computing sciences, isolation, inadequate advisement, among other complex factors, perpetuate the underrepresentation and low persistence of African American males in academic programs. Utilizing viable social identity and communities of practice as theoretical underpinnings, this qualitative study into the lives of aspiring and current African American male computer scientists produced findings that illuminate the significance of what I call STEMfluences, or social interactions that promote socialization, STEM identity, confidence, and success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics related disciplines like the computing sciences, and promote persistence through degree attainment in homogeneous, unwelcoming STEM academic environments. These STEMfluences are social constructs that include positive peer interactions and modeling, parental and familial nurturing, and multifaceted mentorship.
It has long been understood that many higher education institutions have failed to create a level playing field in the realms of both access and achievement for marginalized communities. These failures are particularly evident when examining the disproportionately low numbers of African American men in STEM fields. While a great deal of scholarship, speculation, and policy recommendations have been afforded to this topic, very few have asked the question of whose job it is to fund initiatives to support African American men in STEM? In this chapter, the authors revisit W. E. B. Du Bois' Talented Tenth framework to understand and make a case for the role of philanthropy in supporting diversity in STEM initiatives for African American men and how philanthropic investments from successful African Americans and businesses can create the economic structure necessary to foster interest in STEM fields from African American men. Moreover, the authors believe that an increase in Black philanthropic behavior will be instrumental in making the aspirations of program implementation and policy change a reality in higher education.
Studies suggest that there is a shortage of minorities entering the professions of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This is especially the case with African American males. Several factors that impact this phenomenon are discussed in this chapter, but chiefly the impact of test anxiety and test bias on the absence of African American men in STEM. These factors are significant because society dictates that we embrace the use of tests to determine ability. However, many individuals, including African American males, suffer from test anxiety and are victims of test bias. Science, technology, engineering, mathematics are areas that rely heavily on tests results. Therefore, the impact of test anxiety and test bias as a prohibitory method of denying access to minorities, especially African American males, is worthy of investigation and discussion. The chapter explores this relationship of test anxiety and test bias to the absence of African American males in STEM. It also looks at the importance of historically Black colleges and universities in adding African American males to STEM fields. Plausible solutions to the problem are also provided.
This chapter challenges the notion that Black males in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are missing from the discipline and proposes a model that presents underrepresentation as a function of Black males being both intentionally undiscovered and/or deliberately disconnected from particular academic disciplines. Our work offers a tangible and implementable yet aligned theory/method/exemplar for supporting the STEM genius of Black males through a hip-hop development (HHD) approach that aligns with a unique pedagogical method rooted in hip-hop culture.
In this chapter, we describe a hip-hop based science program as an intervention that combats STEM undiscovery and disconnectedness. We suggest that this program (through its theoretical and methodological roots) provides a set of practices that have the potential to bolster both academic content knowledge and knowledge of self. We argue that this program supports the development of the students' full socioemotional selves – which is a necessary prerequisite to pursuing academic content knowledge.
Black Panther depicted a positive representation of Black culture. The film transcended Black minds to believe in power, excellence, and intelligence. Black youth posted images on social media using the Wakanda pose as a symbol of pride. The film not only countered the stereotypical generalized ideologies of African culture, values, and customs, but it capsized false narratives by including the historical context of Black scientist with a female character. Articles summarizing depictions of Black Panther and its influence on Black youth assert that the character of Shuri and her perfection of the sciences contributed to pathways for young Black girls to join science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. Other factors contribute to the increase of Black girls in STEM programs, but the image of Shuri's character in a position of power of the sciences pinpoints representation as key to cerebral pictures and reflections of Black female excellence in the sciences. However, representation is minimal among Black male youth in STEM programs.
Although it is true that African American male youth have Black male representation in media through sports figures, rappers, and hip-hop artists, inquiring minds need to know that Black male representation in the sciences and mathematics is the formula to how young minds view themselves and their relation to the world. Accordingly, this underrepresentation of Black male youth in STEM programs leads to the big “what if” question. If LeBron James conducted a critical analysis using physics and mathematics to make a 3-point shot, then what is the likelihood that young Black males' interest in the STEM programs would increase?
Research suggests there are at least three challenges to Black male interest and success in STEM careers: increasing access to STEM resources and curriculum, increasing Black and male inclusiveness in STEM initiatives, and increasing cultural and technical competency in STEM fields. African American schools typically do not have equitable STEM resources or instruction. In addition, there is limited research on supporting Black males' success in STEM in the culturally responsive computing (CRC) literature. Most STEM initiatives prioritize increasing the number of girls in STEM fields. STEM field employers are not active recruiters of Black male hires and have little experience with diversity and cultural inclusiveness. Research also suggests that Black students may not be interested working in White corporate America that undervalues their unique cultural perspectives and are more concerned with schooling that improves their communities. This chapter utilized CRC as a lens to examine the complexity of engaging Black males in STEM. As a result, the authors suggest adopting an equity ethic to help teachers help Black males connect themselves and their communities to STEM technology by utilizing smartphones and smartphone technology to engage Black males who may not have access to computers. We end with an example of CRC called barbershop computing, which combines computing, engineering, and innovation as a method to attract and retain Black males in STEM classes and help them persist in STEM careers.
Black Male faculty are severely underrepresented in public universities (Harper, 2010; Li & Koedel, 2017), especially in the department of engineering where they frequently have no representation at all (Nelson et al., 2010). The problem is often attributed (especially by employers) to a pipeline issue, suggesting a lack of a recruitment pool of Black male faculty. However, it is increasingly recognized that turnover and attrition may play a critical role in contributing to the lack of Black engineering faculty (Whittaker et al., 2015). This chapter reports results from a larger national survey of 1,161 engineering faculty at research intensive institutions, of which only 14 identified as Black males (further evidencing underrepresentation). We focus on the responses from the latter group, through a qualitative analysis of their responses to inquiries concerning barriers in their institution for tenure, research, funding, and teaching; diversity concerns; and sentiments regarding their job satisfaction and consideration for employment resignation. Issues identified by participants included feelings of isolation, exclusion and even discrimination at their workplace. Based on these concerns, we suggest talent centered education leadership (TCEL) as a guiding framework to help higher education employers improve the equity and inclusivity of their workspace by creating a more engaging environment for their Black male faculty. TCEL is a recently introduced inclusive talent management framework (Tran, 2022; Tran & Smith, 2020) that emphasizes humanizing the education workplace. Essential to that humanization is creating and maintaining a work environment where all employees feel a sense of belonging.
On February 18, 2021, the NASA Perseverance rover traveled 292.5 million miles, safely landing on Mars, proving the power of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in accomplishing such a historical feat. Glaringly absent from the photos, tweets, and commentaries showing NASA's team celebrations, however, are African American males. Their absence gives rise to the question “Where are the Black males?” – not just in NASA's celebratory photos, but in STEM-related careers altogether. Perhaps even more important questions are “What K-12 systems are in place that exclude Black males from being prepared – academically and socially – for careers with NASA and the like? And what strategies are necessary to engage them in STEM education?”
In this chapter, the author offers a historical overview of the STEM contributions offered by Black males, while explaining the competition of academic identity and Black male identity in successful school experiences. Four K-12 education barriers that derail African American males from their STEM trajectory are highlighted. As a conclusion, strategies to engage Black males in developing and nurturing an early interest in STEM are offered.
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- Diversity in Higher Education
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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