– Although both groups recognized the major role of race in their experiences, the primary factor distinguishing between students and professionals was their sense of “alignment” with their respective community and their different experiences with subtle forms of racism (Microaggressions).
– If one experienced microaggressions, an individual may begin to feel like an outsider, or misaligned, with the science community.
– The qualitative data indicated that students did not adopt the diverse management strategies used by the scientists. So whether they adopted a meritocracy lens or a “black tax” lens the scientists were more likely to assume racial bias to be a part of the community and choose to work around that bleak reality.
– For both students’ and scientists a feeling of alignment with a community is a powerful predictor of a number of other experiences. As a student feels more aligned with the scientific community, the less likely they were to report experiencing Microaggressions. As a result, this type of student would be more likely to express being engaged in the STEM community.
– African-American scientists were far more likely to report a weak sense of belonging to their community and were far more likely to report subtle encounters with racism. By contrast, African-American science students were more likely to feel comfortable with the science community and less likely to report subtle racist encounters.
– As these scientists attempted to work in their fields their constantly being reminded of their difference produced a sense of cultural mismatch and ultimately, a sense of not feeling aligned with the community.
– As individuals maintain a strong sense of racial pride and racial identity, they are more likely to report negative experiences that are rooted in racial interactions.
– Scientists discussed how their performance was critical to their success and failure in ways that were not matched by black science majors.
– Many black scientists claim that being reminded of racial identity by backhanded claims of exceptionalism and being used as a token of diversity often produced a sense of disconnection.
– The message was clear the subtext of racial bias created a community where scientist has to actively work to gain a sense of inclusion despite messages to the contrary. This finding adds to quantitative result that suggested microaggressions negatively correlated to alignment.
* What factors cause individuals to persist in STEM.