Following African American women who “swim against the tide” in the white male science education system
Swimming Against the Tide
African American Girls and Science Education
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Sandra L. Hanson
“They looked at us like we were not supposed to be scientists,” says one young African American girl, describing one openly hostile reaction she encountered in the classroom. In this significant study, Sandra Hanson explains that although many young minority girls are interested in science, the racism and sexism in the field discourage them from pursuing it after high school. Those girls that remain highly motivated to continue studying science must “swim against the tide.”
Hanson examines the experiences of African American girls in science education using multiple methods of quantitative and qualitative research, including a web survey and vignette techniques. She understands the complex interaction between race and gender in the science domain and, using a multicultural and feminist framework of analysis, addresses the role of agency and resistance that encourages and sustains interest in science in African American families and communities.
"Swimming Against the Tide addresses important research issues, with implications for the cultivation and retention of scientific talent and for practice and policy in science education. It also has implications for understanding the 'culture of science’ and the factors that encourage/discourage participation. Hanson’s statistical data and analyses are significant in the strength of findings, [in the] power of inference for young women's interest in and perceptions about science, and for the ways in which race and gender do/do not operate together in affecting outcomes for young women"
"[A]n excellent resource for those who are not familiar with this body of literature about race and science.... This book, overall, is an important contribution to our understanding of the gender, race, and class dynamics that influence the career decision-making of young women...Hanson's synthesis of previous studies on the subject makes this a valuable resource for those hoping to expand and deepen an understanding about how our educational system and science culture itself should be transformed to be a welcoming place for all who have an interest in exploring nature and the world in which we live."
"Swimming Against the Tide is an excellent resource for those not familiar with the literature about race and science. It contributes to our understanding of the gender, race, and class dynamics that influence girls' career decision making.... Hanson's synthesis of previous studies on the subject makes this a valuable resource for those hoping to expand and deepen their understanding of how to transform our educational system and science culture into a welcoming place for all those who have an interest in exploring nature and the world we live in."
"Hanson's focus on African American girls and young women in science is needed and welcome, and her use of qualitative methods is valuable. Her work raises many questions for future research to address.... We certainly need insight into the science experiences of girls and women from specific ethnic groups. Hanson helps us to understand one important group of potential scientists as they 'swim against the tide.'"