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Resilience and Success

The Professional Journeys of African American Women Scientists


Kabba E. Colley and Binta M. Colley

Resilience and Success charts the education and career trajectories of African American women scientists and sheds light as to why young African American females drop off the science map in high school. It constructs a story about the map, which includes exits, entrances and turns. This phenomenon was influenced by cultural and socio-economic issues; class, race relations and racial biases; geography and most important, opportunities and serendipity. None of the roads were smooth as these African American women followed in the footsteps of those who had gone before them. It is critical for young African American female students to know that they have a passion and sense of curiosity befitting a future scientist. The stories of these women serve as a model for the way families, teachers, counselors, community activists and policy makers can participate in developing a new generation of African American women scientists.


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CHAPTER 6: Framework for Studying Race and Gender Issues in Science 68


CHAPTER 6 Framework for Studying Race and Gender Issues in Science Before presenting our framework for studying race and gender in science, we will begin with a review of the various theories of gender difference and/or inequality in science in particular, and society in general, that have been pre- sented in the past. We will review some of these theories, with particular em- phasis on their contributions to our understanding of gender issues in science, their assumptions, and limitations. A framework for studying African Ameri- can women scientists will be proposed, and our rationale for selecting such a framework will be provided. In Chapters 8 and 9, we will demonstrate the application of our framework in the discussion of our findings. Some scholars, such as Gray (1981), have suggested that gender differ- ences exist in science because of biological factors. According to Gray, since gender differences in science achievement are present in all countries studied, and since little variation exists in the results of these studies, biological rather than environmental factors may be responsible for gender differences in sci- ence. The author argues that, although a gene for gender differences in sci- ence has not been discovered, studies conducted on rats and primates also showed that males consistently outperform females in solving complex spatial tasks (Buffery and Gray, 1972; Van Lawick-Goodall, 1968). This spatial abil- ity, Gray noted, has been shown to predict success in quantitative thinking and performance on practical tasks, all of which are critical for success in...

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