Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Employing a Black Feminist Approach to Doctoral Advising: Preparing Black Women for the Professoriate

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Employing a Black Feminist Approach to Doctoral Advising: Preparing Black Women for the Professoriate

Article excerpt

Advising has been identified as a strategy that influences the retention and graduation of many underrepresented populations in higher education including, students of color and women. For Black women, multiple identities, including race and gender, intersect in ways that need acknowledgement during the socialization process. Given the growing numbers of Black women earning doctoral degrees, the authors propose a renewed focus on advising using a Black Feminist approach for advising process Black women. This conceptual essay will outline the differences between mentoring and advising, identifying the tasks and features of the advising relationship potentially needed to ensure the success of Black women graduate students who aspire to enter the professoriate.

Keywords: advising, doctoral students, Black women

Since the turn of the 21st century, the number of Black females entering doctoral programs-and ultimately, the professoriate-has been steadily on the rise. Black women are attaining doctoral degrees at the highest levels in history and currently have the largest faculty presence of all women of color (Ryu, 2010). In 1989, Black women represented only 2.1% of fiill-time faculty nationwide (Benjamin, 1997. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education (2010), this number had doubled to 4% by 2009. In the fall of 2009, African American women accounted for the largest proportion of female faculty of color at 8.6%. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of Black female doctorate recipients increased from 60% to 66% (Survey of Earned Doctorates Fact Sheet, 2008). Currently, Black women are outpacing their Black male counterparts as new members of the professoriate. In the fall of 2009, Black women made up the majority (57%) of Black assistant professors across the country (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2010). These trends show that the status of Black women faculty is becoming increasingly significant in the new millennium.

In this conceptual article, the authors will identify the responsibilities, functions, and characteristics for faculty in the doctoral advising relationship that are needed to ensure the success of Black female doctoral students who aspire to enter the professoriate. Black female doctoral students separate from Black males are highlighted due to the continued need to better understand these women's experiences in higher education (Williams, 2001). For Black women, multiple identities, including race and gender, intersect (Crenshaw, 1989; Hill Collins, 2000) in ways that need acknowledgement during the doctoral student socialization process (Bertrand Jones & Osborne-Lampkin, in press). Black women faculty are forced to invalidate stereotypes and legitimize their competence, intelligence, and overall worth (Benjamin, 1997; Hill Collins, 1986; hooks, 1989), especially at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Black female doctoral students with faculty career aspirations should be advised of both the benefits and challenges of a future faculty career. The authors assert that advising can be used to help mitigate the challenges that Black female doctoral students experience and potentially face as new faculty in academe.

Black feminist thought is used as a framework for doctoral student advising occurring at PWIs, where the potential pool of available Black, female doctoral advisors are dismally low. Despite the encouraging statistics presented previously, Black females still do not represent a critical mass of college and university faculty, especially at PWIs. Currently, Black women faculty represent only 1% of the professoriate at PWIs (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). For Black female doctoral students at these institutions it remains imperative to have an effective advising model, one that can enhance program satisfaction and success-as defined as degree completion-of Black female doctoral students.

Review of Related Literature

Challenges for Black Female Doctoral Students

Black female faculty and graduate students face a unique set of barriers directly related to their race and gender that can be detrimental to their success and vitality in academe (Benjamin, 1997; Evans, 2007; hooks, 1989; Mabokela, 2001). …

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