Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date



THE EXPERIENCES OF PANAMANIAN AFRO-CARIBBEAN WOMEN IN STEM: VOICES TO INFORM WORK WITH BLACK FEMALES IN STEM EDUCATION By BEVERLY A KING MILLER B.A., Psychology, Nyack College, NY, 1985 M.A., Teaching, National-Louis University, IL, 1992 Ph.D., Multicultural Teacher and Childhood Education, University of New Mexico, 2013 ABSTRACT This grounded theory case study examines the experiences of Panamanian Afro-Caribbean women and their membership in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) training and careers. The shortage of Science and Math teachers in 48 of 50 States heightens the need for those trained in STEM. Females of African phenotype have persistently been underrepresented in STEM. However, this trend does not appear to have held for Panamanian Afro-Caribbean women. The current study explores issues related to STEM participation for these women by addressing the overarching question: What key factors from the lived experiences of Panamanian Afro-Caribbean women in STEM careers can be used to inform work with females of African phenotype in their pursuit of STEM education and STEM careers? Five women were identified for inclusion in the studys purposive sample. The study draws upon assertions and implications about the relevance of self-identity and collective-identity for membership in STEM. Data for the study was gathered through qualitative interviews, surveys, and observations. The grounded theory approach was used to analyze emergent themes related to participants' responses to the research questions. Two models, the STEM Attainment Model (SAM) and the Ecological Model of Self-Confidence and Bi-Directional Effect, are proposed from evaluation of the identified information. Socio-cultural values and learned strategies were determined to influence self-confidence which is identified as important for persistence in STEM training and careers for females of African phenotype. Evidence supports that the influences of parents, country of origin, neighborhood communities, schools and teachers are factors for persistence. Through the voices of these women, recommendations are offered to the gatekeepers of STEM academic pathways and ultimately STEM careers.'


STEM Education, Black Female students in Science, Afro-Caribbean students, Teacher Education for Black students, Panamanian women, Afro-Caribbean identity

Document Type




Degree Name

Multicultural Teacher and Childhood Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Sanchez, Rebecca

Second Committee Member

Watkins, Kathryn

Third Committee Member

Borden, Allison