By Lia Hood
Dr. Annmarie Crum, a December 2022 graduate of the EdD Learning and Organizational Change online program at Baylor University, was awarded Baylor’s Outstanding Dissertation Award for her work exploring inequities in STEM education. Her dissertation is titled, “An Intersectional Exploration of the STEM-Related Expectancy-Value Beliefs of Young Women of Color: A Comparative Case Study.”
The Baylor Graduate School recognizes recipients for exceptional scholarship, research, and writing in three categories — Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM. Crum received the Social Sciences award; all recipients also receive a $1000 cash prize and are honored at a recognition luncheon.
Crum has 25 years of experience teaching elementary-level core subjects in the New Jersey Public School System, where she is currently teaching second-grade students.
Crum said memories of her own educational experience in STEM subjects sparked her interest in this topic. She always had an interest in STEM-related studies, but after taking an introductory STEM course in college, she decided to switch to humanities and study education, eventually becoming a State-Certified Masters Level Tenured Teacher with a Specialization in English Language Arts. Recalling her own feelings of being overwhelmed in the STEM course led her to investigate why women like herself feel ill-equipped for STEM domains when they have the skills and intelligence to excel in the area.
Crum said that, in her time as an educator, she has seen multiple girls show great aptitude and interest in STEM-related content only to lose interest as time went on and decide not to pursue STEM subjects as young adults. She wanted to know why.
“Hoping to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of women of color within STEM learning environments, I recognized that I needed to explore the intersecting influence of critical factors, including the participants’ gender, race, socioeconomic status, and self-perception,” she said. “My study allowed six young women of color to voice their beliefs and provide insight into their perceived reality of STEM learning experiences.”
Dr. Nick Werse, dissertation committee member and director of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s Ed.D. Writing Center said that Crum’s case study led to two important findings — one that STEM careers were viewed by participants as a way to escape poverty, and two, “something a lot more troubling, was that the lack of access to STEM classes or STEM preparatory programs left these young woman of color experiencing diminished expectations of STEM success.”
Werse noted that the women in the case study were not disinterested in STEM classes or STEM preparatory programs, but that they had a significant disadvantage because of their lack of access, and that led to their troubling outlook on success in the STEM field.
Crum said she is eager to share her information to ignite change, because she believes the inequity she discovered among women of color in STEM-related fields is significant.
Crum has already begun publishing her work, having contributed a chapter titled “An Intersectional Exploration of Young Women of Color’s STEM-Related Motivated” in Palgrave Macmillan publishing’s forthcoming research volume, Gender Justice: Women’s Rights and Equity, authored by Dr. Elena Shabliy and Dr. Dmitry Kurochkin.
“My goal is to continue to share my findings and conduct future related research to provide administrators and educators with insight into women of color’s experiences within their schools’ STEM cultures and the influence of these contextual factors on women of color’s self-perceptions within STEM,” Crum said. “This knowledge will help educational leaders plan effective strategies to develop STEM learning environments that foster women of color’s motivation and drive to achieve STEM learning outcomes.”
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