A Situated, Intersectional Analysis of Racialized and Gendered Mathematics Experiences among Successful Latin@s in Mathematics-Intensive Majors
Luis Leyva

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



The State University of New Jersey

Primary Discipline

Despite their underrepresentation in engineering and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields at large, Latin@s have demonstrated the largest increase of nearly 75% among racial groups for successful completion of post-secondary engineering degrees over the last 15 years (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2015). Men outnumber women across all racial groups in terms of engineering degree completion, but this gendered disparity has been most consistently increasing between Latin@ women and men since 2002 (NSF, 2015). Thus, engineering education represents an “exclusionary space” (Camacho & Lord, 2013) particularly for Latin@s whose first-year engineering interests often do not translate to degree completion. This one-year phenomenological study uses intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989) to examine Latin@ women and men’s mathematics success as college engineering students at a diverse, predominantly white four-year institution. Drawing on my prior findings of college mathematics as a racialized and gendered experience, the study details five Latin@ engineering students’ strategies in negotiating their academic success with their racial and gender identities across different spaces including mathematics classrooms, home, peer networks, and the university. This study consisted of semi-structured interviews, a focus group, and monthly ethnographic observations in college mathematics classrooms. A three-tiered analytical framework was used to look across the institutional, interpersonal, and ideological influences on the Latin@ college engineering students’ mathematics success. Findings from this study will not only address the existing research gap on qualitatively exploring Latin@s’ success in postsecondary STEM education, but also inform ways in which institutions can better support Latin@ engineering students in navigating academic spaces including college mathematics.
About Luis Leyva
Luis Leyva is a Ph.D. Candidate at Rutgers University in mathematics education. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Ed.M. in Mathematics Education from Rutgers University. His research examines mathematics as a social experience particularly in terms of race and gender for underrepresented college students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Luis’ prior work uses intersectionality from critical race theory to detail African American and Latin@ college students’ strategies in negotiating their identities with racialized and gendered discourses of mathematics success. His scholarship has been presented at research conferences organized by the American Educational Research Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education, and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Alongside his research, Luis has taught elementary and secondary mathematics teacher education courses as well as worked in multiple STEM student support programs including the NSF-funded STEM Talent Expansion Program and Upward Bound Math-Science at Rutgers University.

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