Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. King

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristen L. Buras

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Venus Evans-Winters


Education research on racial and gender disparities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) suggests individual and external factors are the cause for Black females’ underrepresentation in the field. Few studies have been designed to examine the pathway to STEM careers for K-12 students that identify sites of inequities that prevent the promotion of social change. Furthermore, most research on STEM pathways for women of color are based on generalizations about female students, which lump Black female girls’ experiences among the general population. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to use Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to engage a team of Black girls from a low-income urban high school to examine, interpret, and theorizing about more equitable educational pathways for them to reach STEM careers. To accomplish this goal, a twelve-week study was conducted with five Black girls. Qualitative data collection methods were utilized including interviews, observations, focus groups, and document examination. The purpose of this study was to determine how youth participation can be used to engage Black high school girls in the critical examination of educational pathway to STEM careers. Moreover, to discover possibilities for more equitable educational preparation for young Black women STEM careers. The results of this study show

Black girls know race and class affects their educational experiences. However, they know little about racial and gender disparities along STEM educational pathways. Engagement in YPAR is a tool for teaching Black girls about STEM pathways and the impact school climate and culture have on their educational trajectory. YPAR is also a transformative intervention that promoted Black girls to develop new attitudes and identities. This research should broaden the scholarship on the use of YPAR as both a pedagogical tool and as a research methodology. In addition, it is expected that the examination of the benefits of using youth participatory research to engage young people in social change pertaining to the educational pathways will add to the conceptual scholarship and educational policy implications focused on the experiences of urban Black girls in high school.


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