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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

Students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing are underrepresented in science majors, yet we know little about why. Students from other underrepresented groups in science—women and people of color—tend to highly value altruistic or communal career goals, while perceiving science as uncommunal. Research suggests that holding stereotypical conceptions about scientists and perceptions of science as uncommunal may strongly hinder recruitment into science majors. This study sought to explore the science identities of students who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing signers. The study focused on non-science majors in bilingual (American Sign Language and written English) biology laboratory courses. This study is the first step to understanding if stereotypes about scientists and perceptions of science as uncommunal disproportionately affect students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Findings suggest that students’ science identities are influenced by stereotypical portrayals of scientists and a preference for people-centered careers, specifically within the Deaf community. Applied research is needed to challenge stereotypes, and identify connections between science and the Deaf community, to support the growth of deaf and hard-of-hearing students’ science identities to increase participation in science careers.