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Desiring a career in STEM-related fields: How middle school girls articulate and negotiate identities-in-practice in science

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Abstract

The underrepresentation of non-White students and girls in STEM fields is an ongoing problem that is well documented. In K-12 science education, girls, and especially non-White girls, often do not identify with science regardless of test scores. In this study, we examine the narrated and embodied identities-in-practice of non-White, middle school girls who articulate future career goals in STEM-related fields. For these girls who desire an STEM-related career, we examine the relationships between their narrated and embodied identities-in-practice. Drawing on interview and ethnographic data in both school and after school science contexts, we examine how STEM-career minded middle school girls articulate and negotiate a path for themselves through their narratives and actions. We present four types of relationships between girls' narrated and embodied identities-in-practice, each with a representative case study: (1) partial overlaps, (2) significant overlaps, (3) contrasting, and (4) transformative. The implications of these relationships with regard to both hurdles and support structures that are needed to equip and empower girls in pursuit of their STEM trajectories are discussed. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 50: 1143–1179, 2013

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