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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 8: Survey Findings 89


CHAPTER 8 Survey Findings This chapter focuses on the outcomes of the survey research. The guiding research questions were used to organize and present the findings from the survey. The lens of Critical Race Theory is used throughout as a tool for interpretation and discussion. What are the personal characteristics and academic backgrounds of African American women scientists? Figure 8.1 shows the age group of African American women scientists who responded to the survey. As can be seen, 68 percent of respondents were up to 35 years of age, 18 percent were between 35 and 45 years, and 8 percent were between 45 and 55. Only two respondents were between 55 and 75 years old. With regard to their marital status, 79 percent of the respondents were single or unmarried, and 10.5 percent were married (see Figure 8.2). Figure 8.1. Age Group of African American Women Scientist Respondents Age group Count % 1 = 0–35 26 68 2 = 35–45 7 18 3 = 45–55 3 8 4 = 55–65 1 3 5 = 65–75 1 3 6 = >75 0 Total 38 Figure 8.2. Marital Status of African American Women Scientist Respondents M_Status Count % 1 = Married 4 10.5 2 = Unmarried 11 29 3 = Single 19 50 N Missing 4 10.5 Total 38 RESILIENCE AND SUCCESS 90 What led them to careers in science? Except for one, all participants responded to this survey question. Participants’ responses can be categorized into the following themes: love of mathematics and science, teacher...

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