Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Karina Hamamouche

Second Advisor

India R. Johnson


Black students face ongoing exclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classrooms and few studies have looked into strategies to help white professors attract Black students to STEM. Expressing support for anti-racism may help attract Black students to STEM, but this has yet to be explored. An identity safety cue, a signal suggesting one’s identity is valued, can help attract Black students to these STEM classrooms. We focused on anti-racism as an identity safety cue because of the preliminary evidence that support for anti-racism might be helpful for Black students, and the lack of research surrounding anti-racism as an identity safety cue. The present work recruited participants via Prolific, and explored whether the content of an introductory STEM course syllabus, paired with either a white or Black professor, signals allyship and promotes belonging among Black adults. That is, Black participants were assigned to one of four conditions: Black professor-antiracism statement, Black professor-DEI statement, white professor-antiracism statement, or white professor-DEI statement and reported their anticipated belonging in the classroom as well as perceptions the professor was an ally. Based on findings from previous work, we hypothesized that the most anticipated belonging would be signaled when participants viewed a syllabus with anti-racist course content from the Black professor. However, for the white professor, we predicted that he would promote the greatest allyship and anticipated belonging when the syllabus includes anti-racist course content (versus control diversity, equity, and inclusion content) in the syllabus. Participants reported their perceived allyship, interest, similarity, and belonging and trust, all of which were most salient in conditions including the Black professor and in conditions including the antiracism statement. Consistent with past work, the Black professor promoted greater allyship and belonging in the classroom than the white professor. We also found that the antiracism syllabus promoted greater allyship than the syllabus with the general DEI. Taken together, the present work suggests that allyship can be perceived at a higher level when creating a more specific statement promoting antiracism than general DEI. This shows that content and race both have an impact on how Black adults perceive STEM environments and what makes STEM more approachable for Black students.