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"But some of us are [still] brave": The experiences of Black women engaging in graduate women's studies
Experiences of Black women engaging in graduate women's studies
Douglas, Natasha M
ix, 112 pages
The purpose of this exploratory qualitative thesis is to give voice to five Black women engaged in graduate women's studies. This thesis broadens our understanding of the lived experiences of Black women engaging in graduate women's studies. Using qualitative in-depth feminist interviewing, this study focuses on (a) determining how Black women engaging in women's studies perceive their graduate school experiences; (b) ascertaining what challenges Black women engaging in women's studies face in graduate school; and (c) identifying what strategies Black women engaging in women's studies employ to negotiate their graduate school experiences. In this thesis, I draw upon Black feminist thought and critical race theory to analyze my in-depth interviews of five Black women graduate students. The research participant narratives and analysis of the data resulted in the emergence of the following prominent themes: (a) tokenization; (b) turmoil while teaching; (c) conceptualization of women's studies as an "intellectual space"; (d) critiques of the coursework, subjugation of scholarship, and departmental dilemmas; (e) seeking support: mentoring, advising, and community building; and (f) academic survival strategies. Research participants were often negatively racialized and gendered throughout their graduate experiences. This thesis is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces my qualitative research study. I place my research within the historical context of the feminist movement and the progression of women's studies as in an academic discipline. Then, I situate myself as a Black feminist researcher studying Black women. Chapter 2: Review of the Literature presents a critical analysis of related research on Black women graduate students, Black male graduate students and other graduate students of color. My research primarily demonstrates that Black women graduate students experience tokenism, classroom conflict, discomfort with exclusionary curriculum, subordination of their research, and insufficient mentoring. Thus, my research findings were confirmed by the extant literature. Then, Chapter 3: Methods and Methodologies explores the methodological techniques used to carry out this study including in-depth feminist interviewing and employment of feminist methodologies, Black feminist thought, and critical race theory and methodology. Chapter 4: Results and Discussion presents the study results and a thematic analysis informed by Black feminist thought and critical race theory. In the final chapter, Chapter 5: Conclusion I close with a summary of my research findings, implications for women's studies, research limitations, areas for future research, recommendations, and my personal reflections on the research process.
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2015
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