Fighting for Desired Versions of a Future Self: How Young Women Negotiated STEM-Related Identities in the Discursive Landscape of Educational Opportunity

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: 
K-12 Programs
Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Educators/Teachers | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | General STEM
Access and Inclusion: 
Black/African American Communities
Hispanic/Latinx Communities
Immigrant Communities
Women and Girls
English Language Learners
Low Socioeconomic Status
SRI International, University of Colorado Boulder

In this article, we investigate how the national imperative to increase opportunities for young women of color in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to broaden their participation was taken up locally at two high schools in one school district. Using ethnographic and longitudinal data, we focus on four young women of color (two at each school) as they negotiated STEM-related identities in the discursive and practice contexts of their lives at school. Using Holland and Lave’s concept of history in person, we view the young women as fighting for particular versions of a future self while entangled in discursive and social relations that threatened to position them differently than they wished to be. We find that their fight for future selves was not—for them—with the national narrative about women of color in STEM but with local school narratives that negatively positioned students of color more broadly and remained silent on issues of gender, the intersection of gender and race, and the implications for STEM. High school success in STEM came as a hopeful but potentially fragile byproduct of struggles to differentiate themselves from people like them (other Blacks, Latinas, the poor). Implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication Name: 
Journal of the Learning Sciences
Page Number: 

Team Members

Carrie AllenCarrie AllenAuthor
Margaret EisenhartMargaret EisenhartAuthor

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