Ethnic-Racial Identity and STEM Identity Vulnerability

Ethnic-racial identity is how one thinks and feels about their ethnic-racial group membership. My early work showed that the relationship between ethnic-racial identity and academic outcomes is not consistently negative or positive—instead, features of the context, like neighborhoods (Byrd, 2009) or the school racial climate could shape the link between identity and outcomes (Byrd & Chavous, 2011; 2012). That is, adolescents and young adults need to feel that their environments are supportive of their identity beliefs.

In a widely cited paper, I reviewed the measurement of ethnic-racial identity in children (Byrd, 2012). I also participated in a working group convened by Dr. Adriana Umaña-Taylor to develop a lifespan model of ethnic-racial identity (Williams et al., 2020).

My most recent grant-funded project is collaborative research with collaborators Angela White and Tanya Malloy at North Carolina A&T State University and Johnson C. Smith University that explores how Black college students integrate their ethnic-racial and STEM identities to be successful in STEM fields. We have built a conceptual model of STEM identity vulnerability and identified the environmental and experiential factors that contribute to it. I developed a measure of STEM identity vulnerability that we are currently piloting. Future work will validate the measure and test our conceptual model with Black students at HBCUs and PWIs.

News, Publications, and Presentations

STEM Identity Vulnerability

Bowen, J. (2022, January 12). Associate Professor Christy Byrd Will Help Develop Tool To Measure STEM Identities of African American Students Through Work on Grant-funded Project. College of Education News.

White, A., Byrd, C., and Malloy, T., Reclaiming and Recasting: An Anti-Racist Approach to Psychometric Instrument Development. Available at SSRN: or

White, A. M., Mallow, T., Byrd, C. M., “A Multidimensional STEM Identity Measure to Increase the Retention and Success of African American Students”, Transforming STEM Higher Education: Back to Broken? Accelerating Undergraduate STEM Education Reform, AAC&U

Ethnic-Racial Identity

Bañales, J., Mathews, C., Channey, J., Pinetta, B., Byrd, C.M., & Wang, M. (in press). A preliminary investigation of longitudinal associations between ethnic-racial identity and critical consciousness among Black and Latinx youth. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Byrd, C. M., & Legette, K. B. (2022). School ethnic–racial socialization and adolescent ethnic–racial identity. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology28(2), 205. (PDF)

Williams, C.D., Byrd, C.M., Quintana, S.M., Anicama, C., Kiang, L., Umaña-Taylor, A.J., Calzada, E. J., Pabón Gautier, M. C., Ejesi, K., Tuitt, N. R., Martinez-Fuentes, S., White, L., Marks, A. K., Rogers, L. O., & Whitesell, N. (2020). A lifespan model of ethnic-racial identity. Research in Human Development. (Full text)

Rogers, L.O., Kiang, L., White, L., Calzada, E.J., Umaña-Taylor, A.J., Byrd, C.M., Williams, C.D., Marks, A., & Whitesell, N.A. (in press). Persistent concerns: Questions for research on ethnic-racial identity development. Research in Human Development. (Full text)

Butler-Barnes, S., Leath, S., Williams, A., Carter, R., Byrd, C.M., Chavous, T. (in press). Promoting resilience among African American girls: Racial identity as a protective factor. Child Development.

Hoggard, L.H., Byrd, C.M., & Sellers, R.M. (2015). The lagged effects of racial discrimination on depressive symptomology and interactions with racial identity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62, 216-225.

Byrd, C.M., & Chavous, T.M. (2012). The congruence between African American students’ racial identity beliefs and their academic climates: Implications for academic motivation and achievement. In J.M. Sullivan & A.M. Esmail (Eds.), African American Identity: Racial and Cultural Dimensions of the Black Experience (p.345-369). Lanham: Lexington Books. (PDF)

Byrd, C.M. (2012). The measurement of racial/ethnic identity in children: A critical review. Journal of Black Psychology, 38, 3-31. (PDF)

Byrd, C.M., & Chavous, T.M. (2011). Racial identity, school racial climate, and school intrinsic motivation among African American youth: The importance of person–context congruence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 849-860. (PDF)

Byrd, C.M., & Chavous, T.M. (2009). Racial identity and academic achievement in the neighborhood context: A multilevel analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 544-559.