2023 journal article

The intersections of identity and persistence for retention in ecology and environmental biology with personal narratives from Black women

Journal of Geoscience Education.

co-author countries: United States of America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Source: ORCID
Added: January 4, 2023

Ecology and environmental (EE) biology has low representation of Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Degree completion and career placement in EE often fail due to poor consideration of the intersections among student lived experiences and the academic support, peer community support, mentoring, and leadership development that they receive. The demographic composition of these disciplines, which are situated within the geosciences, differs from the composition of the broader society and will continue to do so until biases associated with the dominant culture are remedied. Lack of diverse representation leaves young people of color unable to visualize themselves in EE careers, which contributes to their not pursuing EE programs, majors, and career placement.As Black ecologists, we share narratives that include lessons gained from our individual journeys through undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral positions emphasizing experiences that supported our successful recruitment into our current academic positions. Throughout, we emphasize intersections of identity and persistence in EE. We assert that colorblind interventions to promote diverse participation in EE will be inadequate to affect meaningful increases in BIPOC participation. We highlight the value of diverse mentors, institutional support, and institutional commitment to diversity across multiple institutions. Additionally, we offer recommendations in support of BIPOC student retention in EE and the geosciences. Increasing diversity in EE will involve reassessment of how ecologists and environmental biologists are defined, interventions that support BIPOC retention at all career stages, and critical assessment of cultural biases in EE education and field experiences.