Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When Stereotypes Speak Louder Than Our Words: Black Female Doctoral Students and Their Experience with Race, Invisibility, and Self-Censorship at a Predominantly White Institution
by Henderson, Crystal Garner, Ed.D., The University of Alabama, 2019, 149; 13902155
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences that Black women encountered while enrolled in doctoral programs at predominantly White institutions (PWIs), specifically in terms of race, invisibility, and self-censorship. Three research questions guided this study, providing a closer look at the unique lived experiences encountered in pursuit of doctoral degrees at PWIs. For years, Black women described feeling like outsiders in their academic programs (Collins, 2004; Hunn, 2014; Patterson-Stephens, Lane, & Vital, 2017; Wilder, Jones, & Osborne-Lampkin, 2013). In feeling like an outsider at PWIs, Black female students may find that assimilation and adherence to White institutional norms and aborting their viewpoints (Collins, 2015; Crocco & Waite, 2007) is a way of life. Therefore, it is imperative that the academy acknowledges that Black women attending PWIs experience additional unique challenges other populations simply do not.

This qualitative study also sought to fill various gaps in the literature concerning Black females in doctoral programs at PWIs. My research process was phenomenologically based. Martin Heidegger (1970) argued that the objective of phenomenology should be hermeneutical (i.e., researchers should focus more on the interpretation of the experience, creating meaning, and shedding light on various parts of the experience that may have been ignored). Knowing that phenomenological research aims to contextualize lived experiences, I sought to gather a hermeneutical understanding (one's understanding of each individual part) of the experience as well. The study was conducted through a semi-structured interview with 11 Black female doctoral students enrolled at a PWI. Black feminist thought was used as a framework because it allowed the experiences and understanding of Black women to be told by them and from their standpoint, instead of a story told about them through the eyes of others. The results of the study yielded three themes: emotional rollercoaster, it is what it is, and using silence to refute stereotypes. Through the voices of the study participants, their experiences provide a collective perspective for the need to examine current institutional structure, programs, and resources for Black female doctoral students, even though these women embodied substantial resilience and tenacity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hutcheson, Philo
Commitee: Green, Hilary, Holley, Karri, Laanan, Frankie, Major, Claire
School: The University of Alabama
Department: Higher Education Administration
School Location: United States -- Alabama
Source: DAI-A 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education, Black studies, Gender studies, Health education
Keywords: Black female, doctoral students, Predominantly White Institution
Publication Number: 13902155
ISBN: 9781088302392
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