Matriarchs Matter: Family Influences to Scientific Thinking of Women of Color in the Community College


In the University of California system, community college transfer students comprise of 48% of graduates with STEM bachelor’s degrees (Community College League of California, 2015). This demonstrates that two-year colleges help pave the career pathways of community college students, many of which are students from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM fields. To cultivate the potential of women of color in pursuing STEM fields in the community college, focusing on their standpoint will empower them in centering their own perspectives in their own retention and success. Learning more about their standpoint also highlights their knowledge production as future producers of knowledge in the STEM fields (Harding, 2004). To obtain the influences to their scientific thinking development, 35 women of color STEM majors answered a social network questionnaire by nominating these influences. Social network analysis was used to analyze their influential social networks. Results demonstrate that family members have the highest frequency of influence to scientific thinking, regardless of educational attainment at the high school or lower levels. These relatives also heavily consists of matriarchal figures, such as mothers and grandmothers, especially as influences to scientific observation and scientific justification. These findings signify the importance of family in cultivating intellect, whether or not the relatives obtained college degrees or higher. Significance also supports emphasis on the students’ standpoint in self-determining their own success, and creates a campus culture that celebrates family-inclusiveness. Creating campus programming that caters to students’ strong relationships with their families may promote even more persistence in their STEM career trajectories.

Author Information
Melo-Jean Yap, San Diego State University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2020
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Yap M. (2020) Matriarchs Matter: Family Influences to Scientific Thinking of Women of Color in the Community College ISSN: 2189-1036 – The IAFOR International Conference on Education – Hawaii 2020 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon