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Abstract Title: Finding a Home for All of Myself: Intersectionality in Identity Formation for Women of Color in Physics
Abstract: Intersectionality, coined by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw (in law) and pioneered by Patricia Hill Collins (in sociology), posits that minority women's experiences can amount to "greater than the sum of racism and sexism" (Collins, 1989; Crenshaw, 1989; Wei 1996).  In this symposium, we will present four papers on the application of intersectionality to identity formation for women of color in physics.  Katemari Rosa focuses on the life story of a single woman, as a vehicle for understanding intersectionality in physics identity formation.  Angela Johnson and Heidi Carlone will apply their authoring science identity model to physics, illustrating intersectionality as an analytical tool.  Lily Ko and Maria (Mia) Ong analyzed intersectionality in the lives of 23 women of color in physics and physics-related fields.  Rachel Kachchaf, Apriel Hodari and Lorelle Espinosa discuss how these collective works inform politics and policy in the current STEM-focused education policy context.
Kimberle Williams Crenshaw. 1989. Toward a race conscious pedagogy in legal education. National Black Law Journal 1-14. New York: Columbia Law School.
Patricia Hill Collins. 1989. The social construction of black feminist thought. Signs, 14(4), 745–773. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Virginia W. Wei. 1996. Asian women and employment discrimination: Using intersectionality theory to address Title VII claims based on combined factors of race, gender and national origin. Boston College Law Review 37, 771-1099.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Apriel K Hodari
Council for Opportunity in Education
1025 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202.347.7430
Fax: 202.347.0786

Symposium Specific Information

Discussant: Megan Bang, University of Washington
Moderator: Apriel K Hodari, Council for Opportunity in Education
Presentation 1 Title: Identity and Belonging: Experiences of a Black Woman Physicist
Presentation 1 Authors: Katemari Rosa, Columbia Teachers College
Presentation 1 Abstract: Physics is a collaborative scientific endeavor where the community decides not only what physics is but who physicists are. This community has a set of rituals and traditions that allow those who pass and learn them to be considered a peer. These practices were forged in a fashion that traditionally excluded women, in particular women of color. However, there are women of color who managed to make part of the world of physics, either by learning the rules or breaking them, creating new ones, and contributing  to a new physics. Through storytelling, this work focuses on the trajectory of a Black woman towards the construction of her identity as a physicist and how she became part of this community.
Presentation 2 Title: Authoring Identity Amidst the Treacherous Terrain of Physics: A Multiracial Feminist Examination of the Journeys of Women of Color
Presentation 2 Authors: Angela Johnson, St. Mary's College of Maryland; Jaweer Brown, EngenderHealth; Heidi Carlone, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and Azita Cuevas, New York University School of Medicine
Presentation 2 Abstract: The study of the identity processes of women of color in science-based fields helps us (a) find ways to support similar women, and (b) study the dynamics of inequity, within and beyond science. Participants in this study (a Black woman, a Latina, and an American Indian woman) survived inadequate high schools and discouraging college science departments to win formal recognition (fellowships, publications). Qualitative methods were designed around multiracial feminist theory and Black feminist precepts of caring and personal accountability, the use of concrete experience and of dialogue. Participants reported conflicts between their identities as women of color and as credible science students, and having racist, sexist identities ascribed to them. All became more adept at fending off negative ascription and all found settings with less identity conflict; their ability to read a situation and quickly adjust helped them survive. But the fact that they needed to do this is unjust.
Presentation 3 Title: Narratives of the Double Bind: Intersectionality in Life Stories of Women of Color in Physics, Astrophysics and Astronomy
Presentation 3 Authors: Lily Ko and Maria (Mia) Ong, TERC
Presentation 3 Abstract: This paper presents themes on the life stories of women of color in physics, astronomy and astrophysics. Drawing from our NSF-sponsored project, Beyond the Double Bind: Women of Color in STEM, we share findings from 10 interviews and 41 extant texts (covering 23 women in varied life stages). Employing interactional theory and narrative analysis, our study contributes a critical analysis of how the intersection of gender and race affects performance, identity, achievement and overall career and education experiences in the physical sciences. Our findings both support the literature on women of color in STEM, as well as bring to light unique issues, such as the importance of outside activism and outreach, and career-life balance issues. This research will add to the knowledge base about strategies for retaining women of color--widely considered an untapped source of domestic talent that could fill the country's scientific workforce needs.
Presentation 4 Title: Dispatches from the Front Lines: Evidenced Takeaways for Politics and Policy
Presentation 4 Authors: Rachel Kachchaf, TERC; Apriel K Hodari, Council for Opportunity in Education; and Lorelle Espinosa, Abt Associates
Presentation 4 Abstract: Traditionally, many programs and policy interventions focused on improving the academic success of women and minorities in STEM are grounded largely in the good intentions and social justice motivations of program leaders and policymakers.  Meanwhile, research on effective intervention strategies has been meager, as are evidence-based policy prescriptions or legislative actions.  In this paper, we will discuss how research such as the papers presented in this session can be (and recently have been) applied during the current STEM-focused education policy context, often in unexpectedly political ways.  While we applaud both the political energy and growing opportunities directed toward STEM education and careers, including considerable focus on broadening participation in these fields, we observe greater increases linguistic sophistication than in substantive and progressive policy intervention. We will provide examples of evidenced takeaways for politics and policy which promote success for all participants in the STEM education and careers.