Old Problem, New Perspectives: Applying Anzaldúan Concepts to Underrepresentation in STEM

Ellen Hawley McWhirter, Rachel Gali Cinamon
  • Journal of Career Development, January 2020, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0894845320901797

Engage Anzaldúa's 'nepantla' and 'nepantlerismo' to understand and address STEM underrepresentation

What is it about?

Decades of effort and funding to address gender and ethnic underrepresentation in STEM have not succeeded. What are we missing? We describe Gloria Anzaldua's conceptualization of nepantla (the place in between) and nepantlerismo (bridge building) in the context of STEM education and workplace settings. We offer recommendations for recognizing and transforming systemic exclusion and for engaging the critical sociocultural assets of nepantleras/os in STEM.

Why is it important?

Homogeneity within STEM fields constrains processes and outcomes. Approaching underrepresentation as an issue of numbers ignores the systemic manner by which exclusion operates across STEM education and workplace settings, and perpetuates the loss of talent. We cannot afford this. Anzaldua's concepts of nepantla and nepantlerismo have not been applied to postsecondary STEM education and workplaces, and offer rich potential for critical analysis, reflection, and transformative action within STEM settings.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0894845320901797

The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Ellen Hawley McWhirter

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