Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Representation has improved over the past 40 years among Black female faculty members in social work schools; however, low academic rank and distribution of this demographic across institutions is one way in which predominately White institutions (PWI) of higher education perpetuate racial inequalities. Higher education, in general, continues to result in negative experiences and poor outcomes for Black female faculty members such as time to tenure, low academic rank, and feelings of isolation. However, little is known about the experiences of this demographic in schools of social work, particularly those identified as research-intensive (R-1) Carnegie-designated institutions of higher education. This case study of Black female faculty at research-intensive schools of social work explores the experiences of these faculty members to determine if the challenging relationship between Black women and higher education in the United States in other disciplines holds true for social work. This present study is shaped by frameworks related to race and gender oppression, namely Black feminist thought, critical race theory, and intersectionality to draw conclusions on the lived experiences of Black female faculty members at research-intensive schools of social work. The goal of this study is a depth of understanding, not generalizability, with the specific aims of (a) exploring how Black women negotiate their roles as tenure-track faculty members in top-ranked schools of social work at PWIs and (b) understanding the nature of professional support for tenure-track faculty members at top-ranked, predominately White schools of social work from the perspective of Black female faculty. It is clear through in-depth interviews that these Black women are unfortunately having experiences similar to those of professors in other disciplines, which makes it difficult to be successful in the professoriate.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Renee M. Cunningham-Williams

Committee Members

Tonya Edmond, Carolyn Lesorogol, Michelle Purdy, Vetta Thompson,