Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Educational Administration


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Christopher Broadhurst

Second Advisor

Erin Wheeler

Third Advisor

Brian Beabout

Fourth Advisor

Diana Ward


In the U.S., marginalized populations are underrepresented in STEM. Specifically, there is a disparity in the number of Black women attaining STEM graduate degrees and entering the STEM workforce. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to examine the essence of the shared experiences of Black women currently enrolled in STEM graduate programs at predominantly White institutions (PWIs), in order to increase retention of Black women through STEM graduate programs and into careers; as well as to use participant’s experiences to expose any barriers they encountered related to their educational pursuits, and examine how they were able to navigate those barriers. Critical Race Feminism and Social Cognitive Theory were used as the guiding theoretical framework for this study. Due to the fact that Black women are typically marginalized or excluded in STEM, a critical feminist lens was used to ensure their voices were centered as the focal point of this study. While focusing on Black women in graduate programs, this study comprehensively explored the PK-16+ experiences of Black women and found that: 1) Black women in STEM benefit from opportunities to engage in positive undergraduate research experiences; 2) Black women benefit from opportunities to participate extracurricular activities that foster a sense of belonging and community; 3) Black women are often impacted by the quality of interactions with faculty and mentors, as well as the lack faculty and mentors that they share race and gender identities with; 4) and that there is a need for institutions to embrace a transformational change outlook that ensures STEM learning spaces are diverse, welcoming, inclusive, equitable, and supportive of Black women.


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