Swimming against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education

Swimming against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education

Swimming against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education

Swimming against the Tide: African American Girls and Science Education

Synopsis

"They looked at us like we were not supposed to be scientists," says one young African American girl, describing one openly hostile reaction she encountered in the classroom. In this significant study, Sandra Hanson explains that although many young minority girls are interested in science, the racism and sexism in the field discourage them from pursuing it after high school. Those girls that remain highly motivated to continue studying science must "swim against the tide."Hanson examines the experiences of African American girls in science education using multiple methods of quantitative and qualitative research, including a web survey and vignette techniques. She understands the complex interaction between race and gender in the science domain and, using a multicultural and feminist framework of analysis, addresses the role of agency and resistance that encourages and sustains interest in science in African American families and communities.

Excerpt

The study of elites has historically been an important part of socialscience theory and research. Elites have been described as those occupying powerful and influential positions in government, corporations, and the military. These elites share interests and attitudes, and have networks that work to encourage and include some but discourage and exclude others (Domhoff, 1983; Mills, 1956; Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 1998). in a technologically advanced, postmodern, global society, the status, power, shared interests, and powerful networks of those in science suggest that they must be considered as members of the new elite. One of the most distinguishing features of the science elite (historically and currently) is the shortage of women and nonwhites. in spite of the progress that women and minorities have made in science education and occupations (Hanson et al., 2004; National Science Foundation, 2000, 2004), the culture of science continues to be a white male culture that is often hostile to women and minorities (Catalyst, Inc., 1992; Harding, 1986; Rossiter, 1982, National Science Foundation, 2000, 2004; Pearson and Bechtel, 1999; Ramirez and Wotipka, 2001).

Although research on women in science has proliferated, its focus has often been on differences between men and women, with little attention to subgroups of women. It is a mistake to think of women as an undifferentiated group. Increasingly, researchers have come to the conclusion that not all women have the same experiences in science . . .

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