Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 2

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 3

Dale F. Grant

Abstract

Research suggests that African American women are minorities by race and gender and the intersectionality of these constructs poses obstacles for African American women seeking to attain positions of power. Mentoring can aid African American women in overcoming these barriers. The purpose of this qualitative inquiry was to explore the mentoring experiences of five African American women, the researcher and her sorority sister circle, who are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and how their experiences have contributed to their identity and educational, career, and psychosocial success. This study focused on mentoring as a support system for African American women facing societal challenges such as racial issues, gender bias, and power struggles. The participants included the researcher and four women who have had mentoring relationships with the researcher. The dynamics of each relationship are different and intergenerational. Participants all reside in the Metro Atlanta area, and their ages range from 26-69 years of age. Each participant obtained a Bachelor's degree or higher and is successful in her career. Black Feminist Thought was the theoretical framework that supported the purpose of this study. This framework supports the uplift of African American women and recognizes the significance and value of the African American woman‟s voice and lived experiences. Data collection methods included in-depth individual and focus group interviews, a demographic questionnaire, and analysis of personal artifacts. The interview responses were coded to find common themes and patterns significant to the participants' mentoring experiences. Based on the findings, it was concluded that African American women who have mentors throughout their lives, from childhood through adulthood, have strong will and are confident in their self-identity which gives them the strength to overcome societal challenges faced because of the intersectionality of race and gender. Due to the limited amount of research on the mentoring experiences among African American women in sororities, the feedback gathered from the participants' interviews should prove to be a significant contribution.

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