Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The College of Human Sciences and Education

Document Type



The problem of inadequate representation of Black women in tenure track faculty positions is both pronounced and longstanding. With Black women making up less than 2% of full professors, this is particularly true at institutions categorized as R1 – Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. College faculty have long been the focus of scholarly research. However, studies focused on mentorship to be promoted to full professor for associate professors generally, and Black women associate professors specifically, are lacking. Using a conceptual framework that defined mentorship broadly as developmental networks and focused on faculty growth, this transcendental phenomenological study explored mentorship experiences of Black women tenured associate professors as they work toward full professor. The study was guided by one central research question and three subquestions focused on challenges and overcoming them with mentorship, opportunities and maximizing them with mentorship, and situating mentorship experiences within an overall view of the academy. Seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted from which five core themes emerged. The core themes related to mentors within developmental networks providing support that assists with compensating for inadequate institutional mentorship structures, maintaining productivity, navigating the academy, facilitating opportunities, and providing a safe haven from marginalization. This study adds to the literature on the experiences of associate professors and Black women faculty.

Keywords: Black women, faculty, tenure track, associate professor, full professor, promotion, developmental network, mentor, mentorship, The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, R1 – Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity



Committee Chair

Clayton, Ashley