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Understanding “Our” Similarities and Differences Academically, Socially, and Psychologically: The Race-Gendered Experiences of Black Men and White Men Enrolled in STEM Doctoral Programs

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Given the dearth of scholarly literature that has been published on the experiences of Black and White men enrolled in STEM programs, this qualitative research investigation examines the academic, social, and psychological experiences of Black men (N=20) and White men (N=16) currently enrolled in STEM doctoral programs nationwide. Overall, this study explores how Black and White men maneuver through their graduate education regarding the challenges and oppositions they experience across race and gender lines. Findings indicate that both Black and White men succeed within their STEM graduate programs when they have access to supportive faculty advisors and mentors, feel confident as researchers, and have built a strong peer and familial support network. However, Black and White men’s academic, social, and psychological experiences diverge across racial and gender lines. For example, Black male STEM doctoral students struggle with severe isolation, racial discrimination, and develop a heightened awareness of their intersectional identities within predominately White educational spaces. On the other hand, White men experience imposter syndrome, psychological tension, and struggle to stay motivated with their degree programs. In addition, they do not consider nor reflect on their intersectional identities within predominately White educational spaces, amongst dealing with other stressors. These distinct issues impacted Black and White men’s academic, social, and psychological experiences, respectively. Despite the different types of experiences that Black and White men encounter, they identified similar strategies to cope and succeed in their degree programs. These strategies include exercising, seeking therapy, identifying supportive mentors and peers, and discussing their graduate school experiences with family and peer groups. This study concludes by providing recommendations to improve U.S. STEM doctoral programs.

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This item is under embargo until September 1, 2028.