Linking intersectional invisibility and hypervisibility to experiences of microaggressions among graduate women of color in STEM

Kerrie G. Wilkins-Yel, Jacqueline Hyman, Nelson O.O. Zounlome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations

Abstract

Given their intersecting identities as both women and people of color within STEM discourses that have been historically shaped to respond to one or the other, women of color are invisible within both (Crenshaw, 1991). These experiences of intersectional invisibility increase the likelihood of being scrutinized, isolated, and marginalized by the dominant group. Thus, exacerbating the chilly STEM climate. Using a nationwide sample of 176 participants, the current study examined microaggressions as an avenue through which women of color are rendered simultaneously invisible and hypervisible in STEM fields. Further, our study explored recommendations for addressing such experiences of microaggressions and intersectional invisibility. The four themes that emerged from participants' microaggressive experiences included: delegitimization of one's skills and expertise, implicit and explicit messages communicating their lack of belonging in STEM, instances where both their voice and physical presence were ignored, and gendered and racialized encounters. Nonetheless, students were encouraged to engage in agentic acts such as cultivating communities of support, internalizing messages of success, and foregrounding reasons for pursuing STEM. Implications are discussed in terms of increasing persistence among women of color in STEM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Volume113
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Hypervisibility
  • Invisibility
  • Microaggression
  • STEM
  • Women of color

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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