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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.504 SNIP: 0.671 CiteScore™: 1.65

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

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.2017018836
pages 1-16

EXAMINING THE ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS OF LGBTQ STEM MAJORS

Jodi L. Linley
University of Iowa, N491 Lindquist Center, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA
Kristen A. Renn
Michigan State University, 620 Farm Lane, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA
Michael R. Woodford
Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Ave. W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada

ABSTRACT

This study, drawn from a subset of qualitative data from the National Study of LGBTQ Student Success, explores the ecological systems [Bronfenbrenner, U., ed., Making Human Beings Human: Bioecological Perspectives on Human Development, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2005] of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified (LGBTQ) students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. Through open and axial coding of students' interview transcripts, we identified three primary themes: (1) LGBTQ students experience multiple STEM microsystems influenced by faculty, peers, and colleagues; (2) social science and humanities academic microsystems are perceived as safe places for LGBTQ students to be out; and (3) students' LGBTQ identities are central to their higher education experiences and influence peer microsystems in the context of exo- and macrosystem forces. Students' narratives demonstrate how LGBTQ STEM students experience their collegiate ecological systems and illuminate implications for practice and research.