Enacting Agency: The Strategies of Women of Color in Computing

Apriel K. Hodari, Mia Ong, Lily T. Ko, and Janet M. Smith
Computing in Science & Engineering, 18 (3)/pp. 58-68. May-June 2016


Research on marginalized groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) commonly overlooks those who persist and succeed, positioning groups such as women of color as passive victims instead of active agents in their own achievements. Focusing on women of color who are successfully staying in STEM, particularly in a field like computer science where women and minorities are severely underrepresented, lets researchers pay attention to the ways the women enact agency. This articles examines the agentic strategies women of color in computing use to ensure their own success. The authors present stories of agency from women of color who describe their approaches for actively persisting in computing. Such approaches include being motivated by challenges and finding inspiration from failure; drawing on unique experiences as marginalized persons; and developing and using “soft”‘ skills.