Do I Belong at This Law School?: How Perceived Experiences of Bias, Stereotype Concerns, and Social Capital Influence Law Students' Sense of Belonging
diverse campus environment, campus climate, student engagement
Recent research has shown the importance of sense of belonging in law students’ performance and satisfaction outcomes, particularly for minoritized students (Green et al., forthcoming). However, what affects and supports students’ sense of belonging? Using the 2018 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) data, this dissertation examines the extent to which perceived experiences of bias, stereotype concerns, and various sources of social capital influence law students’ sense of belonging at the intersection of race and gender. The results provided evidence that sense of belonging is patterned by race-gender, which is associated with students’ actual experiences in school reflected in their perceived experiences of bias, stereotype concerns, and the usage of various sources of social capital for support. Moreover, this dissertation shows that the effects of perceived experiences of bias and stereotype concerns on students’ sense of belonging can be mitigated by tapping into various sources of social capital. These findings have important implications for our theoretical and practical understanding of how legal education is experienced by minoritized students and how to support them.