Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Black Female Faculty Success and Early Career Professional Development

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Black Female Faculty Success and Early Career Professional Development

Article excerpt


In recent years, a number of Black female junior scholars have participated in an early career professional development program designed to address socialization issues through individual and small group mentoring. This descriptive qualitative study investigated scholars' perceptions of the importance and effectiveness of a research bootcamp-like experience in the form of an early career professional development program. Findings from a focus group interview with seven junior scholar participants conducted as part of a larger study indicate that while traditional socialization activities fail to include knowledge about writing and publishing, as well as provisions for developing a professional and personal network that Black female faculty identify as crucial for success, the Research BootCamp experience includes this information.


The factors that contribute to academic and professional success in the academy often include indicators provided at the onset of a junior scholar's career. These aspects include a well thought-out program of research or research agenda, clear and consistent performance criteria, and successful tenure and promotion. Researchers have examined these factors in many institutional and gendered contexts (Johnsrud «fe DesJarlais, 1994; Phelps, 1995; Ponjuan, Martin Conley, «fe Trower, 2011; Villalpando «fe Delgado Bernal, 2002). Also, critical knowledge and skill areas identified for new faculty include teaching, research, service, and academic citizenship (LaRocco «fe Bruns, 2006). Unfortunately, many junior scholars often do not receive adequate socialization to become productive faculty members (LaRocco «fe Bruns, 2006; Ortlieb, Biddix, «fe Doepker, 2010; Reynolds, 1992). Traditionally, socialization activities have focused on discipline-based knowledge and skills required for professional success. Nevertheless, these socialization activities fail to address the many unstated and undocumented aspects of academic culture that new faculty identify as crucial to their professional success (Johnson, 2001; LaRocco

Nevertheless, inadequate preparation for success as a faculty member not only results in added difficulties for emerging scholars, but also for graduate students they advise. In short, professional development activities designed with new faculty in mind help to mitigate the issues this group faces in academia. Since socialization is an important factor in the academic preparation and professional success of early career faculty (Clark

Socialization issues are especially acute for Black female faculty given their limited representation in academia, notwithstanding efforts to diversify higher education and the professoriate specifically. The 2009 United States Census (2010) reported .5% of Black females 25 years and older held doctoral degrees compared to .9% of White females. Out of the 63,712 doctoral degrees conferred in 2007-2008, 4% (2,594) were awarded to Black females; they comprise 12.8% of female faculty, and 3.6% of all other faculty (NCES, 2009).

Increasing the number and percentage of Black female faculty can lead to a positive and lasting impact on the overall health of the academy. For example, the presence of more underrepresented faculty role models is likely to broadly influence the recruitment and graduation rate of underrepresented doctoral students, as well as socialize these students to life in the academy (Ayers, 1983; Blackwell, 1983; Brown, 1991; Pruitt

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