2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Catherine Bates, Luke Jones, and Vicki Stieha


The insufficient representation of Latinas in the share of STEM degrees and jobs is a persistent national concern. This lack of representation is often related to biases ingrained into college practices and culture. This problem is particularly urgent to address at Boise State University (BSU), as it is a predominantly white campus that is projected to become an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in the near future. In this study, we aimed to understand what belonging and exclusion looks like for Latinas in STEM so that at some point in the future, BSU can be a place that fully supports these students as they reach their full potential without barriers. We explored belonging and exclusion by conducting six individual interviews with Latina students in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program and interpreted the results using collaborative empathy mapping in MURAL followed by coding in NVivo software. We found that belonging originates from peers and mentors within diversity programs and exclusion takes form as stereotype threat and microaggressions. A key and concerning finding is that an overwhelming amount of microaggressions and threats of stereotyping originate from peers, and though there are fewer originating from faculty, even one instance can permanently damage the sense of belonging experienced by a student in spaces controlled by them. Informed by these results, we recommend that (1) BSU establish routine diversity and inclusion trainings for faculty and students and (2) that faculty visibly show support for underrepresented groups and actively discourage and combat the competitive culture of STEM.



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