College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Fall 11-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Karen Monkman

Second Advisor

Nell Cobb

Third Advisor

Jason Goulah

Abstract

This qualitative ethnography follows 11 high-school girls through their experiences in an all-girls after-school STEM club in a privileged school setting. This study uses Gee’s concept of identity and a feminist poststrutural framework to understand their experiences and how they use the club to re/construct their gendered STEM identities. Through interviews, focus groups, observations, and document analysis, this study found that the after-school club offers girls a space to not only learn about STEM, but also provides a space for girls to understand the gendered nature of their interactions with peers and adults in STEM classrooms. Data shows that girls encounter gender bias and stereotyping in STEM classrooms and that GEMS helps girls identify these experiences. Regular and sustained participation in the club allows girls to develop peer-mentorship relationships, helps them to identify barriers they may face, and to create meaning from their experiences in the club. The results of this study show how Gee’s discourse-identity and affinity-identity can work together to offer an alternative pathway for girls to develop a STEM identity. Additionally, feminist poststucturalism highlights the ways that patriarchal discourse of STEM is infused into classroom spaces and how this club, and those like it, provides a space for girls to develop agency, resistance and freedom and an opportunity to re-create a more inclusive STEM discourse that informs their gendered STEM identity. The STEM identity that girls develop in GEMS supports their active and informed resistance of barriers and creation of more gender equitable STEM spaces. Other studies that examine after school STEM clubs are mostly situated in middle schools or colleges and rarely examine sites of privilege. This study starts to fill a gap in the literature by examining the experiences of high school girls in an affluent school.

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