Faculty Publications

Black Women At The Helm In HBCUs: Paradox Of Gender And Leadership

Document Type



Black women administrators, Gender and race, Historically black colleges and university (HBCUs), Leadership pipeline, Presidency

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Advances in Education in Diverse Communities: Research, Policy and Praxis



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Many Black women continue to negotiate their way within higher education institutions, which are influenced by social class, race, and gender biases. Several scholars contend that Black women's objectification as the "other" and "outsider within" (Collins, 2000; Fitzgerald, 2014; Jean-Marie, 2014) is still apparent in today's institutions yet many persist to ascend to top leadership positions (Bates, 2007; Epps, 2008; Evans, 2007; Hamilton, 2004; Jean-Marie, 2006, 2008). In particular, the inroads made by Black women administrators in both predominantly white colleges (PWIs) as well as historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) depict a rich and enduring history of providing leadership to effect social change in the African American community (i.e., uplift the race) and at large (Bates, 2007; Dede & Poats, 2008; Evans, 2007; Hine, 1994; Miller & Vaughn, 1997). There is a growing body of literature exploring Black women's leadership in higher education, and most research have focused on their experiences in predominantly white institutions (Bower & Wolverton, 2009; Dixon, 2005; Harris, Wright, & Msengi, 2011; Jordan, 1994; Rusher, 1996; Turner, 2008). A review of the literature points to the paucity of research on their experiences and issues of race and gender continue to have an effect on the advancement of Black women in the academy. In this chapter, we examine factors that create hindrance to the transformation of the composition, structure, and power of leadership paradigm with a particular focus on Black women administrators and those at the presidency at HBCUs. From a review of the literature, our synthesis is based on major themes and subthemes that emerged and guide our analysis in this chapter. The chapter concludes with recommendations for identifying and developing Black women leaders to diversify the leadership pipeline at HBCUs and other institutions for the future.


Department of Education

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DOI of published version



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