Community Cultural Wealth & Funds of Identity

Too often, the Latinx communities that our students come from are seen as a hindrance rather than an asset. Many scholars have challenged this idea, and instead have suggested that Latinx communities can provide valuable forms of community cultural wealth and funds of identity (e.g. Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014; Yosso, 2005). We believe that these assets are extremely important within the context of computing identity' development. Within our model, these two assets are designated with the left-side double-headed arrow that demonstrates bidirectional influence on the individual-level computing identity experiences, including daily identity' negotiations and sense-making during college and influence of the student on the environments in which they' live.

From the various system levels, the computing identity development of Latina undergraduate students is influenced by' a Latina students ability to leverage community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) and funds of identity (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014). Emergent findings (Rodriguez & Ramirez, 2020) highlight the importance of leveraging familial and social capital (e.g., parents, friends, peers, teaching assistants, STEM identity-based organizations) to navigate and be successful in computing spaces in higher education. These assets enable Latina students in computing to bring their own various forms of knowledge, skills, abilities, and identities into the identity development process. Thus, we see students’ families, home communities, and environments as being integral to the computing identity development process.

Community cultural wealth is an asset-based approach that refers to the range of knowledge, skills, and abilities that Students of Color bring to their education from their home communities (Yosso, 2005). Community cultural wealth made up of six types of capital: navigational, aspirational, linguistic, resistant, social, and familial. When applied to the computing identity development process, leveraging navigational capital might refer to a student’s ability to make their way within computing spaces, particularly those which may be unsupportive to them and their communities (e.g., seeking tutoring, accessing financial aid, participating in clubs). In this context, aspirational capital might refer to a students hopes for their computing future which drive them to persist despite facing educational inequities. For instance, many Latina students are driven by their aspirations and build their identities as computer scientists despite learning programming upon completing their first computing course (rather than in middle school or high school, like many of their peers). Linguistic capital can refer to the language and communication skills that students bring with them to the computing setting (e.g., bilingualism), whereas resistant capital might refer to the way students leverage their computing knowledge and experiences to create equitable outcomes for themselves and others, particularly for others in their group (e.g., being intentionally inclusive during group work). Social and familial capital may refer to how Latina students utilize the wisdom, values, and stories of their communities to access and navigate computer science while remaining engaged with their communities and ensuring that there is a path for others (e.g., reflecting on the struggles of their parents for strength or mentoring aspiring Latina computer scientists). These forms of capital are useful tools for Latina students to navigate this context and may provide tools for understanding students’ aspirations and persistence in computing.

Coupled with community cultural wealth, Latina undergraduate students may also bring with them various funds of identity that shape their computing identities. Much like community cultural wealth, funds of identity shape the individual that a person becomes over time. Students bring with them social, cultural, institutional, geographical, and practical funds of identity that stem from their internalized funds of knowledge (Esteban-Guitart & Moll, 2014). For instance, Latina students may bring with them social or cultural funds of computing identity that shape the kind of computer scientist that they want to become (e.g., a Latina student becomes the kind of computer scientist that builds culturally relevant technological infrastructure for her community). Latina students might also bring with them institutional (e.g., elements of social institutions, like religion) or geographical funds of identity (e.g., physical and constructed features of their environments, like their hometown). For example, a student’s geographical surroundings could inform the way that Latina computer science students think about computing infrastructure possibilities or challenges (e.g., rural vs. urban, mountain vs. coastal). In addition, Latina computing students may also bring practical funds of identity in to shape their computing identities, including knowledge gained from meaningful activities, interests, or hobbies (e.g., gaming knowledge or tinkering hobbies). Students’ funds of identity directly influence their computing identity development and vice versa. For example, emerging research has shown (Rodriguez & Ramirez, 2020) that some Latina students possess practical funds of identity from their participation in a computing major as a Latina, which influences their desire to “give back” to their communities (a geographical fund of identity).

Intersectionality (Multiple Forms of Oppressions)

While Latina students in computing have the ability to draw upon community cultural wealth and funds of identity, we also directly acknowledge in this model the presence of intersectionality and multiple forms of oppressions that may influence the computing identity development for these students. Latina undergraduate students can experience multiple forms of oppression stemming from their multiple marginalized identities (Carbado, Crenshaw, Mays, & Tomlinson, 2013; Cho, Crenshaw, & McCall, 2013; Crenshaw, 1991). As racially minoritized students, Latinas in computing may experience intersecting axes of privilege, domination, and oppression throughout their computing identity development process. Within our model, intersectionality and multiple oppressions are designated with the right-side double-headed arrow that demonstrates bidirectional influence on the individual-level computing identity' experiences (similar to community cultural wealth and funds of identity) and influence of the student on the environments in which they live.

Intersectionality, a term coined by Crenshaw (1991), is defined as compounding oppressions that influence the ways in which individuals come to their environment. Women of color may experience a “double-bind” (Malcom, Hall, & Brown, 1976; Ong, Wright, Espinosa, & Orfield, 2011) in which they experience intersecting oppressions as a result of being both women and people of color in fields which have historically been dominated by' White men. Our emergent findings (Rodriguez & Ramirez, 2020) demonstrate that Latina women in computing may experience such marginalization as a result of sexism (as women) and racism (as people of color) in the field.

In this vein, belonging to intersecting socially marginalized groups, Latina students in computing may experience difficulty in accessing resources or in finding role models and mentors, for example. Although this model examines a group of individuals with a shared gender and ethnic identity, we recognize that Latina students are diverse in regard to their nationality, citizenship, first- generation college student status, race, language, etc. As such, research aiming to understand the experiences of Latina students in computing necessitates a nuanced approach.

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