Analyzing the Imposter Phenomenon Through Recruitment and Retention of Underrepresented Minorities in Agricultural and Natural Resource Related Fields: The Keys to Diversity and Inclusion

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Virginia Tech

The recruitment and retention for underrepresented minority (URM) students in agriculture and natural resources have been minimal. The importance of elucidating the lack of representation of students of color and underrepresented minority (URM) students in these fields suggests that appropriate actions at the secondary school and collegiate level need consideration. According to Silas (2016, p.iii), "students of color are currently underrepresented in agricultural disciplines when examining the increasingly diverse make-up of the United States." Examining the recruitment and retention strategies institutions are currently implementing is critical because of the narrative of these particular fields in the treatment of students of color and URM students over time. Many students of color and URM students that are currently matriculating a degree or currently in a career in these respective areas have possibly experienced the imposter phenomenon and imposter syndrome. People may feel like an imposter regarding accomplishments they believe they do not deserve or questioning their ability to receive such accolades. When an individual inhibits these feelings, this is an example of the imposter phenomenon or imposter syndrome. The imposter phenomenon, first recognized by Clance and O'Toole (1988), is a motivational disposition in which persons who have achieved some level of success feel like fakes or imposters. Individuals likely experiencing these imposter feelings during a period were examined using a lens based on the Critical Race Theory (Bell; 1987, Crenshaw, 1989; Delagado andStefancic, 2012) and Racial Identity Development Theory (Helms, 1990; Helms, 1993). The phenomenological study examines the effects of IP/IS in URM graduate students in agricultural and natural resource-related majors and fields. This method focuses on the participants' lived experiences regarding this phenomenon. The study itself examined how URM graduate students dealt with these particular feelings in their respective environments and what solutions were suggested or needed. The researcher interviewed ten participants regarding their perceptions of diversity and inclusion in agriculture, natural resources, and STEM-related fields.

Agriculture, Agricultural Education, Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Imposter Phenomenon, Imposter Syndrome, Inclusion, MANRRS, Natural Resources, Racial Identity Development Theory, STEM, Underrepresented Minority Students