Thiry, H., & Hug, S. (2014). “We should all help each other”: Latina undergraduates’ practices and identities in the figured world of computing. Boulder, CO: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

The number of Latinas earning computing degrees and entering technical careers is stubbornly low. This study uses Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain’s (1998) concepts of identity and figured worlds to explore the experiences of 22 Latina undergraduates in computing majors. Using semi-structured, focus group interviews, this paper describes participants’ identity production as empowered computer scientists. Results indicate that Latinas faced many cultural constraints within the landscape of computing, including isolation, marginalization and microaggressions, yet they also described practices and relationships that helped them to persist in their majors. Successful disciplinary performances and access to Latina role models were pivotal in students’ adoption of empowered identities. Study participants challenged the notion of computing as a competitive, individualistic enterprise that permeated the local and global computing communities in which they operated. Instead, they developed identities as engaged, community-oriented computer scientists and enacted these identities through their everyday practices in their departments and in the local community.

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