Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

They Want a Black Face Not a Black Voice: The Professional Experiences of African American Women Middle-Level Managers
by Mitchell, Melanie L., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 216; 10825031
Abstract (Summary)

African American women in student affairs face negative experiences as they seek to move along their career paths, including discrimination based on race and gender, tokenism, and microaggressive behavior. This qualitative interview study explored the professional experiences of 25 African American women middle level managers (MLMs) employed at four-year, predominantly White institutions across the United States. All of the participants had a desire to advance beyond their current MLM position to a senior role in student affairs. This study employed a conceptual framework combining Black Feminist Thought (BFT) with the Human Resource (HR) Frame of Bolman and Deal which piece together a lens for both the individual experiences of African American MLMs, and as people in their organizations of higher education.

Three themes emerged from this study. First, participants faced professional and personal challenges throughout their professional journey including race-based and gender-based discrimination and disrespect, being “the only,” the need to think carefully about presentation of self, and demands based on higher standards of performance and motherhood. Second, participants accessed a range of strategies and supports such as mentors, sponsors, faith, family, community, and a network to respond to and navigate these challenges. Participants were strategic agents who recognized the importance of putting themselves first. Finally, opportunities for professional growth throughout their career were a central component of their plans for advancement.

This study offered recommendations for policy, practice, and future research. Individuals should build networks to find a mentor and establish community while continually seeking professional growth opportunities. Institutions should support affinity groups for faculty and staff of color, provide culturally relevant training for senior student affairs officers on preparing evaluations for African American women MLMs, and on-campus professional development opportunities including collateral assignments that align with the ACPA and NASPA competency areas.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Haviland, Don
Commitee: Eanes, Berenecea, Ortiz, Anna
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Higher Education Administration, Womens studies, Management, Higher education
Keywords: Advancement, African American women, Black Feminist Thought, Leadership, Middle level manager, Predominantly White institution
Publication Number: 10825031
ISBN: 978-0-438-20956-5
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