ObjectiveThe purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of historically underrepresented graduate students, more than half of whom were enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This focus group study represents an initial stage in developing an intervention for historically underrepresented graduate students and their families.
BackgroundUnderrepresentation of graduate students of color in STEM has been attributed to a myriad of factors, including a lack of support systems. Familial support is an endorsed reason for persisting in graduate school. It is unclear what historically underrepresented graduate students' experiences are during uncertain times, such as a pandemic.
MethodFocus groups were conducted online using a videoconferencing platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Five focus groups included: historically underrepresented doctoral students (n = 5), historically underrepresented master's students (n = 6), academic faculty (n = 7), administrator, administrative faculty, and academic faculty (n = 6), and families of historically underrepresented doctoral students (n = 6). Data were analyzed using thematic analysis.
ResultsHistorically underrepresented graduate students experienced difficulties in accessing resources, adjustments to home and family life, amplification of existing nonfinancial issues, and expressed both fears of and hopes for the future.
ConclusionThe COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities in access to resources as well as nonfinancial family support.
ImplicationsThis study may help normalize historically underrepresented graduate students' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings include ideas for informing families about graduate school that can enlighten family support efforts for historically underrepresented graduate students and their families.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC8444674 | BioStudies |