Native STEM Portraits: A Longitudinal, Mixed-Methods Study of the Intersectional Experiences of Native Learners and Professionals in STEM
Effective Years: 2020-2024
Native students and professionals are severely underrepresented in all STEM degree programs and professions in the U.S. This underrepresentation is often overlooked in research and discussions of equity in STEM. This abstract, and this project, uses the word "Native" as an umbrella to refer to American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples of North America. This project will contribute to changing the conversation about Native individuals in STEM by conducting critical research on the largely unexplored topic of experiences, that act either as supports or as barriers for Native individuals to successfully continue their paths in STEM higher education and professions, with special emphasis on women, LGBTQIA+, and two-spirit individuals. This project will inform future research and make recommendations for promising practices that institutions can implement. The project will study STEM students, STEM faculty, and STEM professionals both inside and outside academe. The three main STEM areas covered in the study will be computer sciences and engineering, biological sciences, and mathematics, physics, and earth sciences. This project is supported by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.
The project will: (1) identify and aggregate what is known of the challenges and supports specific to Native participation in STEM careers through a scoping review of the literature; (2) study the experiences that support and hinder individuals to successfully continue their paths in STEM higher education and professions across the spectrum, from undergraduates to professionals using surveys and photo elicitation interviews; and (3) study the experiences of administrators, support staff, and non-Native faculty in providing supports to Native students and faculty in STEM through focus groups and interviews. The project will extensively disseminate findings to a broad base of constituencies, including collaborative workshops with partner institutions; traditional academic venues such as conferences and peer reviewed publications; and visual displays that will be made available to libraries, museums, and institutions of higher education.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.