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African American Women in Science: Experiences from High School through the Post-Secondary Years and Beyond
Abstract

This essay uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) to provide information on the science achievement, access (course-taking), and attitudes of young African American women at various points in the science education system. In addition, it uses recent data from the NELS 2000 panel to examine these young women's entry into science occupations in the early adult years. This essay also examines the extent to which their experiences differ from those of young white women. There is a growing—but limited—body of research that suggests that in spite of barriers the science system sets up for women, minorities, and minority women, it cannot be assumed that members of these groups will be equally disinterested in science. Using a multicultural gender framework, I argue that gender systems in the African American community provide young women with a unique set of resources that might be important for generating interest and success in science. In one of the most extensive studies of young African American women's science experiences from the early high school years to the early adult years, findings show that there is a continued interest and involvement in science, often more so than that for young white women.