What Are the Lived Challenges Experienced by Black Females in a STEM Doctoral Program at a Majority White Institution?

Sharlane S Cleare, Purdue University


The purpose of this study is to explore the challenges experienced by Black female STEM doctoral students at a Majority White Institution. This study examined how, and to what extent did the Majority White Institution's STEM environment influenced such challenges. The qualitative phenomenological approach to this investigation utilized the lenses of Black Feminist Thought and Critical Race Feminism Theoretical Frameworks as interconnected lenses by which to conceptualize this phenomenon. This study answered the following question: What are the lived challenges experienced by Black female in a STEM doctoral program at a Majority White Institution? Purposeful and snowball sampling were employed to recruit participants for this investigation. Both sampling methods were selected because of their wide use in qualitative investigations, as well as their proven ability to precisely source quality participants (Biernacki, & Waldorf,1981; Palinkas, Horwitz, Green, Wisdom, Duan, & Hoagwood, (2015). Observations, in-depth semi-structured interviews, and focus groups were conducted with eleven (11) Black females STEM doctoral students currently studying at a large Majority White Institution in the Midwest. The findings from this study suggest that this is a phenomenon worthy of considerable attention. Research in the area of Black females in STEM doctoral programs at Majority White Institutions can be further expanded and updated. Therefore, this study will contribute and supplement existing literature on Black females in STEM doctoral programs at Majority White Institutions. Most importantly, the results obtained from this study can assist Majority White Institutions in the development and enhancement of programs and policies specifically geared towards addressing the needs of this underrepresented minority population segment.




Mentzer, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|African American Studies|Black studies|Educational sociology|Womens studies|Science education|Higher education

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