Date of Award


Document Type


Copyright Status, No Creative Commons License

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities




School of Education and Human Services


This critical autoethnographic study explored my multifaceted journey of being Black and female in administration within a predominantly white higher education institution. I drew upon personal narratives and reflections from 25 years of experience in higher education. This study explored the intricate intersections of race, gender, and power dynamics that have shaped my navigation of self and belonging. Furthermore, the study is framed in a Black feminist theoretical approach, acknowledging how the interconnectedness of being Black and female can intersect to shape individual experiences within systems of power and privilege. I used a six-step thematic analysis combined with a systematic and reflexive approach to explain how my encounters with systemic racism, microaggressions, and institutional biases impacted my personal and professional sense of self and belonging. A key theme was my identity formation, and marginalization experienced through structural inequities embedded in higher education, cultivating the resilience and active resistance growth needed to be my whole, authentic self. Through analysis of this theme, this study highlighted the complexities of navigating predominantly white spaces as a black female administrator, shedding light on the everyday struggles, triumphs, and moments of empowerment that shaped the researcher’s identity and agency within the institution’s cultural context. This autoethnographic study contributes to a deeper understanding of my experiences and many other black women in higher education administration. It underscores the importance of centering marginalized voices in diversity, equity, and inclusion discussions. The intended impact of this research is to initiate meaningful and purposeful dialogue that leads to individual and collective actions that create more equitable opportunities and spaces for Black women in higher education spaces.

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