Black Engineering and Computing Doctoral Studentsâ€™ Peer Interactions that Foster Racial Isolation
Thursday, September 20, 2018 — 4:00PM - 5:00PM
Our study analyzed how the experiences of Black engineering and computing doctoral students were impacted by stereotype-based interactions with their peers which involved microagressions, blatant racism, and/or exclusion. This study uses the theoretical frameworks of institutional racism (institutional-level racism embedded specifically within STEM which positions Black students as impostors) and impostor syndrome (individualized feelings of being an impostor within the institutional climate) as guiding theoretical frameworks. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 23 Black PhD students about their doctoral experiences, in which instances of stereotype-led peer interactions emerged across nearly all interviews. Respondents described how 1) their racial underrepresentation and 2) stereotype-based interactions with their non-Black peers challenged their sense of belonging within their departments.This research affirms the need to instate initiatives at the institutional or departmental level to make engineering and computing programs more inclusive spaces for diverse students and to combat/minimize the types of exclusionary practices seen in this research. A focus on student-centered initiatives could positively impact the retention of talented students within doctoral programs. We stress the need for STEM departments and colleges to perform a racial audit on the practices policies and behaviors that create racial hostility for Black doctoral students.Bold strategic plans like the will succeed in retaining Black doctoral students and possibly serve to keep Black PhDers in STEM fields post-graduate, this adding to the robustness and innovation of STEM itself.