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Abstract Title: Prosperity, Family and Identity: Learning From What Helps Women of Color Thrive
Abstract: Centering marginalized voices has long been a tool for critiquing mainstream institutions and individual practices by feminist theorists and critical race scholars. In this paper session, we present four papers that center women of color in order to study predominantly white physics departments in which they thrive. The ultimate goal of this work is to provide insights into how physics spaces that were not created for women of color can become more welcoming of them, and thereby increase their own thriving. Elizabeth Mulvey will present results of quantitative analyses of postsecondary institutional data pointing to schools in which women of color are succeeding beyond the national norm. Angela Johnson will describe qualitative evidence of what such institutions do facilitate extraordinary success for women of color. Rose Young will report on her interviews with undergraduate STEM students who parent. Vanessa Webb will focus on STEM undergraduates of trans experience, and present her findings on whether/how environments that are inclusive for women of color are inclusive for trans students as well. Apriel Hodari will provide a framework for these papers, and co-facilitate a conversation between the audience and speakers, along with a thoughtful discussant. The overarching goal of this session is to consider broader notions of race and gender intersectionality via explicit engagement with ideas of family and identity beyond those traditionally considered. We invite a participant audience to join with us to wrestle with the lived realities of the collective voices our data represents. We request participants consider how they can contribute to increased inclusion in their home institutions based on what they learn in this session.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster II
Room: Meeting Room 2

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Apriel K. Hodari
Council for Opportunity in Education
and Co-Presenter(s)
Angela C. Johnson, Elizabeth Mulvey, Vanessa Webb, Rose Young

Symposium Specific Information

Discussant: E. Price
Moderator: Apriel K. Hodari
Presentation 1 Title: Co-creating Inclusion in Physics: Applying the Athena SWAN and Race Charter Criteria
Presentation 1 Authors: Symposium Talk
Presentation 1 Abstract: The researchers presenting in this session comprise the team for Centering Women of Color in STEM: Identifying and Scaling Up What Helps Women of Color Thrive (CWCS). In this talk, I will provide a framework for the others, by briefly introducing the Athena SWAN and Race Charter criteria underpinning our approach. These criteria address inclusion in higher education through a robust engagement with the broad spectrum of gender and race expression. They challenge us to co-create learning environments where excellence and inclusion work together. The papers presented here offer evidence of what inclusive environments look like, and invite participants to consider what greater inclusion in their home institutions might entail.
Presentation 2 Title: Educating Women of Color in Physics: Identifying and Learning from Institutions that Graduate the Highest Rates and Numbers and Outperform Their Peers
Presentation 2 Authors: Elizabeth Mulvey
Presentation 2 Abstract: Researchers from Eureka Scientific, Inc. and St. Mary's College of Maryland are conducting in-depth, mixed-method investigations of out-performing STEM departments in the United States and England in which women of color are thriving. The project identifies shared approaches across these departments; developing a body of tested, practical elements of success that STEM departments can adopt; and a set of measures that will let the departments monitor the success of their transformation process. The project will advance research-based knowledge to promote systemic change in STEM education and will provide a clearer understanding about factors that promote success for young women of color in a variety of institutional contexts. The project will culminate in a meeting with participants from 12 institutions who will examine the applicability of the findings at their home institutions including: doctoral universities, master's universities, baccalaureate colleges, open enrollment, public and private institutions. This paper will examine the quantitative data analysis conducted during this research.
Presentation 3 Title: What Successful Institutions are Doing to Support Women Physics Students of Color: Qualitative Findings
Presentation 3 Authors: Angela Johnson
Presentation 3 Abstract: I study an undergraduate physics department where women students use words like "helpful" and "friendly" to describe their interactions with other students and professors. Classes are marked by group work, collaboration, intellectual engagement and warmth. Students are encouraged to make mistakes and to help one another. Even Black women and Latinas, who are drastically underrepresented nationwide among physics majors, have said "I feel like I've been pretty supported in this department. The teachers...have all been great, and very helpful" and "I guess it can be intimidating at first, to go into a field where there are far more men. But it becomes...they just become like your friends. It's not like you have to see a huge difference because I'm a girl and that's a guy." In this session, I will talk about actions professors in this department have taken to bring about this culture as well as the ongoing work professors do to maintain it.
Presentation 4 Title: Supporting Undergraduate Physics Students who are the Guardians of a Minor
Presentation 4 Authors: Rose Young
Presentation 4 Abstract: Parents or guardians who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in physics have many barriers to their success. In this paper, I explore the possibility of extending the standard notions of student support systems to include classroom practices which have enabled undergraduate students to succeed and thrive while pursuing their degree. I ask: Can physics departments be supportive of students with dependent children, and if so, how? By studying students who have/are thriving in physics, engineering, math and computer science undergraduate degree programs around the United States, the author examines strategies that administrators and faculty use to make their departments supportive and inclusive for student parents. The paper describes the non-traditional challenges physics undergraduates who are the guardians of minors can face, as well as the support systems that may be created, and policies and practices that ensure their success.
Presentation 5 Title: LGBT+ in Physics: The Transgender Experience
Presentation 5 Authors: Vanessa Webb
Presentation 5 Abstract: It has been widely reported that youth are more accepting of LGBT+ identities, and an increasing number of colleges and universities allow students to use gender-neutral pronouns. Yet, research on how inclusive STEM educational cultures are of sexual identity and gender fluidity is meager. My research is based on STEM undergraduates of transgender experience, and I will present findings on whether/how environments that are inclusive for women of color are inclusive for transgender students as well.