"There Was Something Missing": How Latinas Construct Compartmentalized Identities in STEM

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

An Asset-Based Approach to Advancing Latina Students in STEM: Increasing Resilience, Participation, and Success

First page number:


Last page number:



Drawing on interviews with eight Latinas pursuing STEM degrees, this study aims to understand how Latinas pursuing STEM degrees understand and utilize their identity to persist in STEM. The findings from this qualitative study reveal that Latinas demonstrated resilience through the construction of compartmentalized identities within STEM, which they then leveraged to establish same-identity mentoring relationships that aided their persistence. Based on these findings, we provide recommendations for future research and practice. This chapter understands how Latinas pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees understand and utilize their identity to persist in STEM. Latinas, like other Women of Color, experience STEM contexts through multiple markers of marginalization due to their gender and racial/ethnic identities. The four institutions represent a variety of institutional contexts, including large public land-grant universities, a large private urban university, and a STEM-focused private urban university. The interviews were conducted using a semi-structured protocol that included questions about students’ involvement on campus and who they went to when they needed advice about their future in STEM. Two major themes emerged from our analysis of the data. First, the readers found that most Latinas in STEM described their identities as compartmentalized. Second, Latinas leveraged these compartmentalized identities to establish same-identity mentoring relationships with others in STEM who nurtured their identity development and supported their persistence.


Gender Equity in Education | Science and Mathematics Education



Search your library