The University of Alabama will examine Black undergraduate women’s academic and career-related outcomes in the computing sciences (CS). Computing fields are currently in high demand with favorable workforce outcomes and a need for diverse perspectives. Nonetheless, Black women remain underrepresented along CS professional pathways. Some factors that influence Black women’s trajectories into computing professions are their college experiences, especially the challenges or biases that they face, as well as the strengths and supports that foster resilience. This project will also develop educational initiatives to promote public engagement in equity issues regarding Black women in these fields. Collectively, these activities will help to promote CS diversity and to expand opportunities in computing for the overall benefits to society. The mixed-methods research plan for this CAREER project includes a national survey to examine how Black undergraduate women’s challenges, multilevel psychosocial risks and multilevel psychosocial strengths combine to shape key academic and career-related outcomes in computing. This study will compare outcomes for Black women to other important groups (i.e., Black men and White women) given the dire need to better understand their unique experiences at the intersection of biases due to their race and gender. Moreover, qualitative data will be used to further explain Black women’s race-gendered experiences and how it impacts their academic and career-related outcomes. As a compliment to the research, the educational plan for this project will include initiatives to: 1) nurture a community of scholars in CS education to further the work of broadening CS participation; 2) combine STEM and the arts (i.e. STEAM) via production and dissemination of a documentary to increase awareness about the challenges and strengths that impact Black women’s CS academic and career-related outcomes; 3) create and disseminate a media-informed curriculum to provoke thought and dialogue about the experiences of Black women in computing, along with strategies for organizational transformation; and 4) create virtual platforms on social media for undergraduate Black women in computing to develop community and solidarity.
Funder: National Science Foundation
PI: Krystal Williams, Institute of Higher Education