Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Human Sciences and Education

Document Type



The American workforce is currently experiencing an increased level of diversity in comparison to previous decades due to augmented representation of people of different races, socio-economic backgrounds and genders across sectors (Warner, 2014). However, there is one variable that has remained largely unchanged, the underrepresentation of African American women in executive positions in higher education institutions (Cook & Cordova (2007). Data suggests despite women’s advancement in areas of public life over the last thirty years, in higher education administration they still significantly lag behind their male counterparts. Researchers note that minority women face multiple barriers to their ability to obtain administration positions in higher education (Murhurjee, 1993). In its 2012 issue of the American College President Study Report, the American Council on Education (ACE), notes the number of female collegiate presidents has increased by a meager 17% over the past 25 years (American Council on Education, 2012). Women experience inferior salaries, lower-rank appointments, slower rates of promotion, lower rates of retention, and less recognition through awards are all tangible manifestations of gender-based obstacles (Dominic, 2013).

This study examined the aforementioned phenomenon utilizing the case study approach through a phenomenological lens and used Feminist Poststructuralist Theory as a framework to guide the research. The purpose of conducting this case study through a phenomenological lens is trifold: 1) to identify the contributing factors that limit the advancement and progress of African American women in leadership roles in higher education administration, 2) to illuminate the multiple barriers of entry into campus administrations faced by minority women, and finally, 3) to understand foreseeable challenges for minority females seeking to fill such positions in the future? The case study entailed in-depth interviews with five (5) highly placed African American (Black) women actively working in HBCUs, who are selected across the southern states of United States of America including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.



Committee Chair

Mitchell, Roland