Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

Committee Chair

Lydia Kyei-Blankson


Many Black women professionals at predominantly White colleges and universities share similar experiences regarding racism, sexism, and classism at their institutions. However, there is a dearth of research regarding the experiences of Black women who specifically work in diversity related positions at four-year predominantly White institutions (PWI). The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of Black women who hold diversity related roles at PWIs. For the purpose of this study, diversity positions were defined as roles held in housing and residence life as well as in multicultural affairs departments and centers. Using a qualitative research approach and narrative inquiry design, I sought to understand how the lived experiences of Black women in diversity positions affect their ability to perform the daily tasks required by their roles.This research study focused on Black women in diversity positions within student affairs units such as university housing and residence life as well as multicultural affairs departments and centers at eleven public four-year universities in the United States. The data was collected by conducting 11, one-hour, semi-structured interviews using the Zoom video conference platform. Data was then analyzed using thematic coding (Maguire & Delahunt, 2017) through a Black Feminist lens, and four themes emerged. The results of the study revealed the following conclusions: a perception held by the participants regarding who is supposed to occupy diversity roles; Black women in these positions have to “bend” and “shift” (Harris-Perry, 2011) to navigate their predominantly White environments; Black women’s relationships with White women, Black women, and Black men are either exceptionally positive or negative; and Black women often have to explore coping mechanisms to navigate their professional environments. The recommendations of this study include challenges to PWIs to allocate financial and support resources to applicable departments, Black women diversity workers, and inclusion initiatives university-wide. Further, this study recommends providing training and enforcing accountability measures to address diversity concerns. Ultimately, this study implies that by implementing these recommendations, PWIs will look inward at institutional policies and practices rooted in racism and sexism. They will also hold themselves accountable to address and correct these protocols, which affect Black women diversity workers’ ability to perform their job responsibilities effectively. This study hopes to encourage Black women diversity workers to use their voice and agency in their positions without fear.

Keywords: Black, women, diversity, roles, housing, residence life, multicultural affairs, centers


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