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Asian American women in STEM in the lab with “White Men Named John”

Written by: Athena R. Castro PhD, Christopher S. Collins PhD
Published on: Mar 6, 2023

Woman in STEMPhoto credit: ryanking999/Adobe Stock

Asian American women occupy a paradoxical space within the context of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, simultaneously overrepresented as Asian Americans and underrepresented as women. For Asian American female doctoral students, the complex layering and weaving of these intersections involves the constant negotiation of science, racial, and gendered identities. This study explored how the intersections of science, race, and gender shaped their student experiences. We positioned these frameworks not only as mutually constitutive systems but also emphasize science as an epistemology, which informs conceptions of knowledge, the practice of inquiry, and who has epistemic authority. As a qualitative study, we utilized intersectionality theory to explore identity development in the context of STEM environments and grounded theory methods in our analysis. We interviewed 23 women who self-identified as Asian Americans and were either currently in a doctoral program or were within 5 years of earning their degrees in STEM fields.

Examining the intersections of science, race, and gender for Asian American female doctoral students in STEM allows a richer, more nuanced exploration of science as it is currently defined and understood and permits the conceptual critique of science to remake STEM environments into more inclusive spaces

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