Date of Award

Fall 5-19-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Joseph Stetar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Finkelstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elaine Walker, Ph.D.


African-born, Black women Faculty, Triple Marginality, Phenomenology, Lived Experiences, Discrimination, Higher Education, Insidious Racism and Sexism, Perceived Barriers and Challenges, intersectionality


This dissertation study explored the lived experiences, challenges, and perceived barriers to progress and success encountered by African-born Black women faculty in U.S. higher education. It is imperative to contextualize the experiences of this study’s participants to gain an understanding of where their individual narratives fit within the broader landscape of diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusiveness in American colleges and universities. The focus of this study was to give a voice to the multiple dimensions of African-born black women faculty experiences in the U.S. institutions of higher learning, bringing to light how gender, race, and ethnicity inform their experiences. This study used a qualitative research methodology drawing largely on heuristic phenomenology, a process and a method used to study and discover the underlying aspects of human lived experiences. Interviews were conducted with 11 participants selected by purposeful sampling of African-born Black women currently serving or having served as faculty in varied U.S. two-year or four-year institutions of higher learning. The participants were originally from Kenya, Cameroun, Ghana, Nigeria, Serra Leone, and Senegal. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s descriptive phenomenological data analysis and NVivo computer software to identify overarching themes. The analytical framework was guided by components of critical race theory and Black feminist theory, all contributing to placing the intersectionality of marginalized identities in the context in higher education. Eleven common themes emerged from the study: effective and successful career, mentor influence, insidious racism, underrepresentation, gender roles and sexism, students’ interaction, the value of education, intersection of race and gender, promotion and tenure issues, family-centered cultural orientation/family support, availability of services and resources.

Based on these common themes that emerged from the participants’ narrations, findings show gender, race, and ethnicity of African-born Black women significantly impact their lived experiences, career success and progress as faculty in U.S. higher education. Implications for future practice for institutions and strategies for enhancing campus climates and diversity to better promote African-born professional abilities and to support Africans as they navigate their careers are discussed, as well as implications for current and future African-born Black women faculty.

Available for download on Friday, February 21, 2020