RETHINKING INITIATIVES TO INCREASE DIVERSITY IN STEM: A NEW CAPITAL FRAMEWORK MODEL
This study seeks to understand the capitals that URM scientists accessed while pursuing a scientific career. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with URM scientists (N=16) who identified as Latinx, African American, Queer, or Disabled. Interviews explored participant’s academic and career experiences in STEM. Interviews were analyzed using a predetermined coding scheme (deductive coding). The capitals most important to participants were social (networks) and intrinsic (internal motivation). Access to social capital derived primarily from mentors and family. Although access to cultural capital (scientific knowledge) and economic capital (financial resources) was also important for progressing in their scientific careers, participants could only access these through first accessing social capital. Social, cultural, and economic capitals were categorized as external capitals because they derived from outside influences. Intrinsic capital emerged when participants encountered social barriers such as poverty, racism, ableism, or sexism, allowing participants to push back and defy social barriers to persist in their scientific endeavors. I present a new capital framework model that demonstrates how external capitals are derived and interconnected and how intrinsic capital enables URM scientists to persist in scientific careers.