Negotiating doctoral STEM studies: An In-depth look at the Black woman impostor


impostor syndrome, Black women, Black feminist thought, STEM doctoral students

How to Cite

Simon, M. (2021) “Negotiating doctoral STEM studies: An In-depth look at the Black woman impostor ”, Journal of African American Women and Girls in Education, 1(2), pp. 94–118. doi: 10.21423/jaawge-v1i2a89.


This qualitative study investigated how the impostor syndrome influenced Black women's experiences pursuing terminal degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at a research institution in the southwestern United States. As a Black female researcher engaging with participants through one-on-one interviews, I used Collins’s (2006) Black Feminist Thought (BFT) tenets to collect and analyze data to understand the participants' doctoral journey. Race and gender regularly intersected to shape how they experienced the impostor syndrome during their doctoral journey. Findings revealed participants with low or moderate impostor feelings tended to have positive experiences while those who had frequent or intense impostor feelings had a more tumultuous academic journey. This study does not only highlight the need for continued research on reducing the impostor syndrome's influence on doctoral women in STEM fields but challenges higher education institutions to make concerted efforts to address their needs.