Theses Doctoral

Increasing Diversity: Modeling of Social Capital for Navigating the Science and Health Professions Pipeline

Rumala, Bernice B.

Social capital theory states that resources, both actual and prospective, are inherently linked to networks and relationships that can be used as opportunities. Therefore, a basic tenet of social capital theory is that "relationships matter." In the science and health profession pipeline, strong mentoring relationships and collaborative research networks are critical elements in developing an individual's capacity for navigating the pipeline and for success and advancement in these fields. However, underrepresented minorities are often bereft of social capital because they lack proper mentorships and are often not part of "inner" circles for networking. Additionally, social capital can be leveraged to develop organizational capacity that supports diversity. In this dissertation, social capital theory is examined through the lens of three pipeline initiatives targeting pre-high school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate-level populations. The three initiatives (E-matching, achieving Successful Productive Academic Research Careers, and Mentoring in Medicine) were evaluated and the results are presented here as three related but unique manuscripts. The particular forms of social capital examined are knowledge, mentorship, and networks needed to navigate the pipeline for science and health professions careers. All three initiatives had significant impact on increasing social capital via the social capital indicators of increased knowledge, mentorship, networks, information and resources. Study results suggest that it would be useful to replicate these initiatives on a larger scale to build social capital at earlier levels of the pipeline to enhance diversity in the science and health professions. Additionally, study results suggest that the social capital obtained from brief interactions in short duration initiatives is valuable as a factor in assisting students to navigate the pipeline; therefore this should not be underestimated. Lastly, a logic model framework is provided for measuring social capital for navigating the STEM and health professions pipeline.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Science Education
Thesis Advisors
Emdin, Christopher
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013