Publication Date

Summer 8-8-2022

Document Type

Action research project: USD users only.

Degree Name

MA Higher Education Leadership

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

Queer students are more visible on U.S. college campuses than ever before which has led to an increase in inclusion efforts. The purpose of this action research is to better understand the experiences of queer students who are pursuing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degree at the University of San Diego (USD). To explore this topic I administered two rounds of interviews with queer students and one round of interviews with faculty from different STEM departments at USD. This study was guided by the following two research questions: What are tangible ways STEM departments can provide support to their queer without placing the burden of initiating change on the students themselves? What changes can STEM departments implement in order to make their spaces more welcoming to queer students while nurturing the development of their identities? My results indicated that queer students in the STEM departments struggle to find community with folks sharing similar identities and do not always feel like their queerness should be brought up in STEM spaces. There is also a lack of trust in the faculty being able to support non-academic needs. As a result of these findings, I am proposing the creation a mentorship program and the re-starting of qSTEM alongside other methods of making STEM spaces more queer-friendly. Future research could provide more context on how other identities interact with queerness and STEM as well as provide a deeper understanding of the role of religion in the queer STEM experience at a catholic institution such as USD.

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