Successful African American women in science: a narrative inquiry

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cailisha L. Petty (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Heidi Carlone

Abstract: This study used narrative inquiry as a methodology to explore the lived experiences of five African American women in science across the academic spectrum, from doctoral candidate to full professor. The research questions guiding the inquiry included one overarching question and three sub-questions: What are the lifestories of successful African American women in science?; a) How do successful African American women in science define themselves?; b) What have been the facilitators and barriers encountered by successful African American women in science?; and c) What have been the systems of support for African American women in science? The study was theoretically positioned within the frameworks of Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought. The two theories were used to guide all aspects of the study including methodology, data collection, and analysis. Data included eleven 40-60 minute semi-structured interview transcripts as well as the participants’ Curriculum Vitae. The study design and data analysis were built upon Clandinin and Connelly’s (2000) and Clandinin’s (2006) model of narrative inquiry which explores narratives as a means to understand experience. Analysis and interpretation created three dominant narratives: Scientific Beginnings, An Unexpected Journey, and Lift as You Climb. Each narrative set explores multiple stories that describe storylines which aligned with the participants’ goals of who they were and who they were becoming as scientists; and, storylines of tension which ran counter to the women’s goals and aspirations. Barriers and support systems are revealed, as well as the meanings the participants made of their experiences and how it affected their lives.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
African American women, Black Feminist Thought, Critical Race Theory, Narrative inquiry, Science
African American women scientists
Racism in higher education
Sex discrimination in science
Science $x Social aspects
Feminism and science

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