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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
In Dream On!, Dr. Ezella McPherson speaks on the influence of early exposure to science and math and the involvement of African American girls in K–12 STEM fields. She evaluates the importance of hands-on projects and teacher training in shaping positive STEM identities, leading to success in middle school. Dr. McPherson honestly approaches the obstacles faced by African American women in college-level science, emphasizing the significance of making the hidden curriculum visible. Social capital, including support networks from family, peers, and teachers, plays a crucial role in persistence in STEM. The phenomenon of cooling out in STEM majors is explored, revealing the need for tailored teaching methods, inclusive environments, and early identity cultivation. Dr. McPherson's findings stress the importance of collective efforts to ensure equitable opportunities for African American women in STEM majors.
As a parent to young women of color, I was immediately drawn to Dream On! by Dr. Ezella McPherson. People are often shocked to hear that my husband is a mentor in the Algorithm Olympics—literally, a Mathlete—and I doubt if he were not a person of color, this would be the response. This is compounded for my girls, which Dr. McPherson addresses wonderfully by pointing out the intersectionality of race and gender and by providing a true understanding of the challenges Black women face, going beyond a singular focus on gender. The standout section for me was on "cooling out," a sociological concept referring to a process in higher education where students of color are subtly discouraged from pursuing their original educational aspirations. This book clearly articulates its contribution to the existing body of knowledge, emphasizing the unique application of the cooling-out framework to a four-year college setting and focusing specifically on African American women in STEM. This is a complex subject but Dr. McPherson makes it accessible with a writing style that is clear and concise, authoritative, and straight to the point. Overall, this is an important body of work and very, very highly recommended.