“You Could Like Science and Not Be a Science Person”: Black Girls' Negotiation of Space and Identity in Science

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Science Education

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Building on previous research that has described the underrepresentation of women of color in science fields, this paper presents case studies of Black middle school girls to examine how their science identities developed over space and time. Data were collected over the course of their seventh-grade year in both in school (science classroom) and out-of-school (afterschool club) contexts. The Multidimensionality of Black Girls' STEM Learning framework was used to explore the role of the afterschool club as a counterspace and how students made sense of science, science people, and their current and future selves based on their experiences in school and after school science contexts. All three participants struggled to see their future selves as scientists and made distinctions amongst being a science person, a person who likes science, or a scientist. They also negotiated views of science as active and hands-on in the afterschool setting while experiencing more passive and decontextualized forms of science in the formal school setting. Implications include a need to disrupt the culture of science and reimagine formal science education by learning from out-of-school time science programs that function as counterspaces to support Black girls' science identity. We conclude that there remains a need to draw attention to and understand the role of race and racism in science education so that Black girls' science identities are affirmed beyond counterspaces.


Science and Mathematics Education



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