HIDDEN FIGURES: AN EXAMINATION OF THE CAREER TRAJECTORIES OF BLACK WOMEN IN SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to analyze and examine the career development of Black women in senior academic administrative positions. Although every senior administrator does not aspire to become a college president, there is a traditional pathway for those who reach the presidency. Women are underrepresented in college presidencies, but Black women in particular are underrepresented as presidents of predominately White research institutions. The theoretical frameworks guiding this study are Black Feminist Thought and Community Cultural Wealth, which both provide a better understanding of the diversity within Black female experiences and the unique capital they cultivate to proceed through the academy. Narrative inquiry was the methodology selected to conduct this nationwide study of 15 Black women who had the career titles of a chair, dean, or provost. Each participant was interviewed once for approximately 90 minutes in a semi-structured format. The transcribed interviews were hand-coded to highlight the emerging themes: participants were recruited into administration, the significance of faculty rank and the department chair position, support was largely found outside of the participants’ institution. Participants acquired capital through their parents, partners, and sister circles (friends). The women were able to leverage their capital to help mitigate some of the obstacles and to influence their career decisions.