Home VanguardSTEM #WCWinSTEM: Nicole M. Joseph, Ph.D.
#WCWinSTEM: Nicole M. Joseph, Ph.D.

#WCWinSTEM: Nicole M. Joseph, Ph.D.


This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Nicole M. Joseph, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.

As compiled by Chrystelle Vilfranc

Dr. Nicole M. Joseph is an assistant professor of mathematics and science education in the department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University and was a 2014-2015 National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellow. Her research interests include mathematics education and equity, access, retention and achievement of African Americans.

Dr. Joseph primarily studies black women and girls, their identity development and their experiences in mathematics and mathematics education. She also studies the role of race, class, and gender in mathematics identity development and the history of mathematics education of African Americans (1837 – 1957). As if that wasn’t enough, she also mentors black women in the academy.

Dr. Joseph studies black women and girls because they are one of the most vulnerable sub-groups in the United States today. Joseph says, “in terms of the racial mathematics hierocracy, black women and girls are somewhere at the bottom (according to standardized assessment scores).” The epistemologies of black girls and black women are not valued in math classrooms. From the literature, Joseph explains that experiences in mathematics are complex and these complexities include intersections of race, gender, class, and structural systems. The experiences of black women and girls can allow us to understand the inequities in our system, but also the agency and resilience they bring to these spaces. Joseph mentors other black women in the academy because she feels that the academy was not designed for women of color to function successfully. Joseph says:

“Many black women helped me to get where I am and I think it is pertinent for me to pay it forward. Black women are beautiful, smart, genius, and worthy of recognition and value.”



Dr. Nicole Joseph in conversation with her students. Image credit: Nicole Joseph.

Joseph on the importance of highlighting women of color in STEM

I absolutely love the vision of Dr. Isler and the #VangaurdSTEM team! The problem that I am trying to address is underrepresentation of Black women in mathematics. It is important to highlight women of color because they have such low representation in these areas. Younger women hopefully can see these role models as someone to aspire to. It is also important to see that STEM is not gendered and a performative of masculinity, but women can be both intelligent, incredible thinkers, hard workers at the same time that they are beautiful and well put together. Finally, it is important to show the variety of roles and positions women of color have in STEM.

Thank you, Dr. Joseph! We appreciate all that you and your work bring to #STEM! 

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