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Careers ‘from’ but not ‘in’ science: why aspirations to be a scientist are challenging for minority ethnic students?

Wong, B. ORCID: (2015) Careers ‘from’ but not ‘in’ science: why aspirations to be a scientist are challenging for minority ethnic students? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52 (7). pp. 979-1002. ISSN 1098-2736

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/tea.21231


The importance of science to the economy and for the progression of society is widely acknowledged. Yet, there are concerns that minority ethnic students in the UK are underrepresented, and even excluded, from post-compulsory science education and careers in science. Drawing on an exploratory study of 46 semi-structured interviews with British young people (aged 11-14) from Black Caribbean, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Chinese ethnic backgrounds, this paper explores why careers in science are not popular aspirations among minority ethnic students, while careers from science are highly sought after. Using sociological theories of identity, this paper argues that gender and ethnic identities can operate in multifaceted ways to influence students’ careers aspirations. Being a scientist is constructed by students as a highly gendered and racialized profession, which may reflect popular discourse of scientist as typically for ‘white men’. Careers from science, particularly in medicine, appeared popular among some, but not all, minority ethnic groups, as being a medical staff is considered intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding. Implications of the findings for the science education of minority ethnic students are discussed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:69979


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