Black Girls Create is a culturally responsive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program that seeks to increase underserved girls' interest and confidence in science and math. This project builds on the notion that informal learning spaces can provide underserved students with access to quality and culturally relevant STEM activities that are often unavailable in their schools. Unique features of this program are (1) the use of social history (i.e., learning about Black women's contributions to STEM), (2) culturally responsive instruction (i.e., anchoring STEM learning within the cultural context of girls’ lives), (3) mentorship from young, diverse scientific role models, and (4) the development of transferable STEM skills through design and digital fabrication.
In 2021, Black Girls Create, in collaboration with Spelman College, received a grant from the National Science Foundation for a two-year feasibility study that seeks to explore how engagement in BGC affects middle school girls’ STEM interest, STEM confidence, and racial and gender identities.
Black Girls and Women in STEM
Black girls and women have a long history of underrepresentation in the STEM workforce and many have overcome these challenges by making significant contributions to STEM education and workforce. Although there have been attempts to resolve the systemic factors associated with opportunity and access for Black girls and women, an achievement gap persists. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that African American students and girls in all grade levels consistently score lower than their white counterparts, especially in science.
Research shows that Black girls do not significantly differ in their aptitude for learning science and math content when compared to other students, however, they do differ in their interest and confidence in STEM subjects, which negatively affects their performance in these areas. Poor performance in science and math throughout elementary and secondary school limits Black girls’ access to competitive colleges and universities, and influences major selection, college persistence, and entry into the STEM workforce. Black Girls Create aims to address this gap.