THE INFLUENCE OF MATH AND NATURAL SCIENCE DISCOURSE ON BLACK WOMEN'S PERFORMANCE, AND RETENTION IN MATH AND NATURAL SCIENCE
Degree awarded: M.A. Sociology. American University This study strives to contribute to the sociological research regarding the experiences of black women in math and science while attending predominately white institutions (PWIs). The goal of this research is to explore the dominant discourses taking place in math and natural science courses through the textual analysis of Washington Post newspaper articles and interviews with black women in math or science based majors at PWIs. A textual analysis was conducted using 17 newspaper articles and 8 face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The findings implicated that cultural capital and identity management were strong themes across interviews. In addition, themes of gender essentialism and representation of women and minority students as mutually exclusive surfaced. As a preliminary study, the findings reflect the need for more research on the discourse in math and science and how it informs public discourses on STEM as well as the identities of black women pursuing STEM fields.