OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:
Washington, DC–Dr. Shawn Joseph, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and Leader of the Superintendent Academies at Howard University, published an article titled, “Superintendents as social justice advocates for African American female students in STEM, in the prestigious “International Journal of Leadership in Education” with Khalid Arar, Ph.D, Hasan Karaburk, Ed.D., and Salman Elbedour, Ph.D. Dr. Joseph shared, “Superintendents are power people as it relates to improving equitable outcomes in America. Unfortunately, too many superintendents are stifled by politics and a lack of vision. As a result, they miss an opportunity to transform children’s lives through their advocacy and action. Black children, particularly Black girls, need committed advocates to advance and accelerate their learning. STEM should be a place of focus for equity-minded superintendents.”
This research is significant because there is currently limited research on the role superintendents play as advocates for social justice, particularly for Black girls. Whereas 17% of the U.S. population is Black, just 12% of STEM majors are Black and a mere 2.5% of STEM postdocs are Black. If all the Black women who entered STEM programs were retained in the STEM workforce, the shortage of STEM workers in the U.S. might be resolved. Dr. Joseph explains, “The superintendency is a powerful role. He/She/They prioritize resources, create programs, and expand opportunities for students. Superintendents and teachers need to promote an assets based view of students and the students’ communities, rather than deficit-based thinking.
Superintendents need to be aware of the limits Black females face their pursuit of STEM education and careers by becoming aware of any institutional racism and implicit biases operate, and advocate for positive change. By focusing on superintendents as the agent of change, we can better address the barriers and institutional barriers that have denied Black girls opportunities and access to exceptional STEM experiences.