Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Thesis Director

Catherine L. Polydore

Thesis Committee Member

Mona Y. Davenport

Thesis Committee Member

Maggie L. Burkhead


Despite the educational progress that Black women in the United States have made, they continue to be underrepresented in positions of senior leadership in all sectors including higher education (American Council on Education, 2017, 2023, de Brey et al., 2019). Because of their double minoritized status they also face bigger challenges in their positions than their White female, White male, and Black male counterparts. This narrative qualitative study utilized theory of othering and intersectionality to highlight the experiences of five Black women as they ascend to leadership positions at four-year predominately White institutions. The research questions guiding this study are: What are the experiences of Black women leaders at predominately White institutions of higher education? What are Black women leaders in higher education perceptions of what impacts their advancement? How do race and gender identities impact Black women in leadership experiences at predominately White institutions of higher education? Findings confirm previous research that found that Black women have unique experiences based on the intersection of race and gender such as mammying, and the angry Black woman stereotype, feelings of isolation and lack of support, microaggressions and discrimination. However, having great allies and positive mentoring relationships, helped them to navigate those environments. Other findings, implications for higher education and recommendations for future research are also presented.