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Adopting Critical Quantitative Methods

Traditionally, researchers who adopt critical race and intersectionality approaches tend to rely on qualitative research methods (Schudde, 2018). In fact, some scholars caution against using quantitative research to examine the intersection of social identities (e.g., Teranishi, 2007). However, higher- education researchers offer recommendations for conducting quantitative research in ways that honor the traditions of critical research. For example, scholars should be reflective and use critical quantitative research to ask thoughtful questions and “unmask inequities” (Rios-Aguilar, 2014, p. 98) related to diversity and equity in STEM.

Scholars increasingly provide examples about how to specify statistical models to support critical quantitative research. For example, researchers use two-way interaction terms to examine the intersection of race and gender to examine student learning outcomes among women in engineering (e.g.,

Ro & Loya, 2015). Others show that effect coding is useful to avoid setting White students as the reference group for comparing minority students’outcomes (Mayhew & Simonoff, 2015). Additionally, Schudde (2018) recommends calculating and plotting marginal effects as one approach for examining intersecting identities.

For brevity’s sake, I avoid getting into the statistical details of how to conduct critical quantitative research, but it as integral to continuing to build the scholarly base for STEM education. Echoing Stage and Wells (2014), 1 “encourage future research using a critical quantitative perspective that will help to shrink the gap between equity-minded research and policy” (p. 3). Anecdotally, 1 know that too many administrators and policymakers are skeptical of even the best qualitative research. In the future, critical quantitative evidence should complement rich counter-narratives, such as those contained in this volume.

Supplanting “Resiliency” and “Resilient”

Resilient and resiliency can suggest that resilience is an attribute or trait— students and organizations have it, or they don’t. Scholars tend to challenge deficit views of minoritized students in STEM by characterizing high-achieving students as inherently resilient (high-achieving Latinas are resilient; they have resiliency). Depictions of resilience often draw on the notion of “resiliency” that is embedded in the idea of community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005). Looking for resilience among racial minorities and women was a crucial step in flipping the paradigm for scholarly and policy discourse from a deficit-based to an asset-based perspective. But if we think of resilience as a trait, then what do we make of the many women who initially enroll in physical sciences but later major in life or health sciences (George-Jackson, 2011)? If we think of resilience as a trait, are students not resilient when they do not complete their initial majors? Or, is switching majors from one STEM field to another one form of resilience? What about if a low-income, first-generation Latina was studying engineering, dropped out of college, and ultimately graduated with a degree in business—isn’t she still showing some sort of resilience? What are different ways to operationalize the concept of resilience, measure it, and positively affect it?

Resilience describes “the achievement of successful adaptation despite developmental risk and adversity” (Gordon & Wang, 1994, p. 191). In that sense, the same student may exhibit resilience when faced with one set of circumstances but not a different set of challenges. We cannot just ascribe desirable outcomes to resiliency. When we consider the concept of resilience as a process or as contextually bound, it opens new avenues and opportunities for research. We need to think about the specific qualities or sources of support that are available in a given context and whether they enable adaptation to a particular set of risks or exigencies.

Resilience as a construct is applied to individuals, organizations, and communities (Fernandez & Burnett, 2020; Kamimura, 2020; Sutcliffe & Vogus, 2003; Wang 8c Gordon, 1994). For all three groups, we should consider how fostering resilience in one context can be a learning opportunity that supports resilience during future challenges (Sutcliffe & Vogus, 2003). In addition to examining resilience among individuals, we should consider how resilience may exist at the department, college, or university level. Achieving greater equity and diversity in STEM will require resilience by multiple actors and organizations.

Conclusion

This volume is the beginning—and not the culmination—of a research agenda for advancing equity in STEM higher education. As an editor, I had the opportunity' and privilege of reviewing each chapter multiple times. The process of compiling this volume allowed me to develop concluding recommendations for continuing the conversation on how to support Latinas—and others—in STEM.

There are connections within this set of recommendations. For instance, we see critical quantitative research methods are crucial for working toward better understanding the double bind. Additionally, students’ conceptions of the double bind could change as they reconsider their own gender and racial identities through different life stages or encounter new experiences. Finally, future work should incorporate multiple groups to help examine resilience in STEM as a phenomenon and not a characteristic or trait of any one particular group of underrepresented students. Just as the process of writing six potential directions for future research led me to consider new, cross-cutting opportunities for research, I hope that these comments will inspire ideas for future scholarship among readers.

 
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