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Cultural Value in STEM + Entrepreneurship
The purpose of this study was to understand how urban entrepreneurship exposure programs can enable minoritized students to leverage their cultural capital and create an environment that affirms their inherent strengths and cultural identity. More specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions: (1) how, and in what ways, do minoritized youth (ages 14-18) leverage their cultural capital in entrepreneurial experiences and (2) how, and in what ways, can entrepreneurial experiences create an environment that affirms minoritized youth’s (ages 14-18) inherent strengths and cultural identity? To answer these questions, a qualitative descriptive approach was used and the lenses of the Community Cultural Wealth Framework were leveraged to conceptualize the findings. Purposeful sampling was employed to recruit participants for this investigation. Observations of the program implementation and in-depth semi-structured interviews with two high school-aged minoritized students and one program administrator at an urban entrepreneurship exposure program in a large Midwestern city were conducted. The findings from this study suggest that cultural capital is worthy of considerable attention as it is leveraged by minoritized youth and may contribute to affirming their cultural identity and inherent strengths. Therefore, the results obtained from this study can assist entrepreneurship exposure programs in the development and enhancement of programs specifically geared toward addressing the needs of this minoritized population segment. For example, recommendations include employing Critical Race Theory in research studies, utilizing counter-storytelling for the experiences of minoritized youth, and investigating culturally sustaining innovations created by minoritized youth. The results of this study, are important as it has significant implications for developing better methods to train and nurture talents of youth in becoming confident in their cultural identities and necessitating success in becoming entrepreneurially-minded which in turn may help to further diversify, fortify the STEM workforce, and break systemic barriers. As such, this study can contribute and supplement existing literature on minoritized youth in STEM educational contexts, specifically in entrepreneurship focused STEM learning environments.