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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 7: Survey and Case Study Methodology 84


CHAPTER 7 Survey and Case Study Methodology The survey In preparing this book we drew from three methodological traditions, namely survey research, case study, and research synthesis. This chapter gives an explanation of the methodology used. The first step was to conduct a sample survey of African American women scientists with a view to answering the following questions: What are the personal characteristics and academic backgrounds of African American women scientists? What led them to careers in science? What academic trajectories did they follow? What professional trajectories did they follow? What factors contributed to their success in science? This chapter focuses on the analysis of the survey data. The sampling plan was to develop a sampling frame by enlisting the assistance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), national Black scientific associations, national Black women’s associations, the Association for Women in Science, the American Association of University Women, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other professional organizations. Between 200 and 500 scientists were to be sampled using stratified random sampling techniques (Czaja and Blair, 1996) to ensure representation by scientific discipline, professional affiliation, and region of the country. Unfortunately, this plan was not viable because of time, resources, and legal constraints involved in obtaining a sampling frame. The following alternative sampling strategy was adopted. The survey instrument was sent to representatives from the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) who agreed to distribute the survey to their female members...

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