Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Journey of Black Women Becoming Firsts and Thriving in Positions of Leadership and Authority
by Materre, Denise Wingate, Ed.D., University of Colorado at Denver, 2018, 152; 10838066
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the conditions contributing to Black women becoming firsts and thriving in positions of leadership and authority. This qualitative phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of six Black women leaders, representative of different fields and geographies across the United States. In 2018, there remains a conspicuous absence of Black women in top leadership positions. The availability of models and mentors to inspire young Black girls and women to achieve key positions of authority remains a challenge. The literature of Black women that concentrates on the challenges, barriers, and stereotypes as manifestations of racism, sexism and classism diminishes how Black women are viewed. The phenomenological research method provides an opportunity for these leaders to reflect on their journeys, and to use their own voices to share their stories, their insights and collective wisdom. We learn by virtue of their experiences that the daily struggles of gendered racism never truly end.

The conceptual framework for this study addresses self-efficacy, professional development and organizational culture. In spite of their organizational accomplishments, success is a relative condition, one that may be fleeting. Since the challenges have not ceased these leaders have learned to operate in the face of the struggles that persist. For this reason, this study focuses on the phenomenon to thrive, a dynamic state of contributing and influencing change.

The findings reveal six emergent themes: 1) strong supportive family, 2) strong sense of self/self-confidence, 3) resilience/ adaptability, 4) the desire to make an impact/help others, 5) collaborative/connector of people, and 6) use their voice. The six themes that work together dynamically for the leaders to thrive, do not provide a roadmap paved with guarantees. At best, they offer us a pathway lined with uncertainty. And yet, given the option to give up or keep going, we can learn from their experiences and look to the illustrations presented here of resilience and resolve, as a model to emulate.

This study gleans poignant advice to young Black women embarking on their careers and recommendations to organizational leaders committed to the advancement of Black women as leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Garrison-Wade, Dorothy F.
Commitee: Ball, Arnetha F., Jefferson, Antwan
School: University of Colorado at Denver
Department: Leadership for Educational Equity
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 79/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Educational leadership, Womens studies, Gender studies
Keywords: Black Feminist Thought, Inclusion, Self-efficacy, Thrive
Publication Number: 10838066
ISBN: 978-0-438-13360-0
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