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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2013005361
pages 1-16

UNDERSTANDING THE CAREER CHOICE FOR UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITY DOCTORAL STUDENTS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

Audrey J. Jaeger
Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult & Higher Education, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695
Karen J. Haley
Department of Educational Leadership & Policy, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207
Frim Ampaw
Central Michigan University
John S. Levin
Graduate School of Education, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA

ABSTRACT

This study explored the career choices of underrepresented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics minority graduate students through the lens of identity theory. Twelve participants from a research university in the West participated in in-depth interviews. Themes were developed using work from Holland et al. (Identity and Agency in Cultural Worlds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998) including figured worlds, positionality, self-authoring, and agency. Positionality, as described by students' roles in academia, appeared to be influenced by the nature of "doing" science and engineering. Graduate students in this study found the world of academia in conflict with their own values and identity. What they wanted as a career was often inconsistent with their perceptions of what they observed in a faculty role at a research university.