Socially Toxic Environments: A YPAR Project Exposes Issues Affecting Urban Black Girls’ Educational Pathway to STEM Careers and Their Racial Identity Development

  • Shadonna DavisEmail author


In this article, the author reports findings from a youth participatory action research (YPAR) project, aimed to engage a group of Black girls from a low-income urban high school in a social justice project. The YPAR project conducted during the 2015 and 2016 academic year focused on a critical examination of the high school educational pathway to specialized fields, such as STEM careers. Findings from phase one of the project show Black girls know race and class affects their educational experiences. However, they know little about racial and gender disparities along STEM educational pathways. In fact, when given an opportunity to engage in a critical examination of school-based issues, these girls initially reified negative racial stereotypes to explain social and educational injustices. The findings reveal how school and culture intersect and affect urban Black girls’ school experiences, perception of educational and specialized career pathways, and their racial identity development.


Youth development Racial identity development Human behavior Urban Black girls Youth participatory action research 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social WorkClark Atlanta UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Policy Studies, College of Education and Human DevelopmentGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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