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"Count-our-Space": Examining the Counterspaces of Black Women Pursuing the Doctorate in Education

McClure, Christine (2018) "Count-our-Space": Examining the Counterspaces of Black Women Pursuing the Doctorate in Education. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Black women are earning more than 65% of the doctoral degrees awarded to Blacks, yet they remain dissatisfied and isolated in their programs (Shavers & Moore, 2014, p. 15). Research shows that Black women experience graduate school negatively on almost every level. While the literature suggests that the negative experiences of Black women continue to go unnoticed by faculty and administrators, they are taking control of their situations by developing counterspaces to ensure their successful completion of their programs. A counterspace is a “safe space that counters discrimination and builds a supportive campus climate for marginalized students” (Garcia, 2011, p. 11).
This qualitative study used Black Feminist Thought and Narrative Inquiry to understand how Black women experience graduate school and how those experiences promote the development of and participation in counterspaces. The study participants included four Black women enrolled in a doctoral program in the school of education at Morgantown Central University (MCU). All the women had prior graduate school experience, which was described as positive and supportive. They expected their experiences at MCU to be comparable; however, the women’s experiences were extremely different in the doctoral program. The study exposed a lack of proper advisement, mentoring, and same race faculty. As a result, this investigation revealed that counterspace is an essential component to the successful completion of doctoral programs for Black women. It also revealed that the failure of formal institutional structures creates the need for counterspaces for Black women pursuing doctorates. This study exposed the importance of the following areas for promoting Black women’s success in doctoral programs: advising and mentoring, faculty diversity, recognition of race and gender, and counterspace development.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McClure, Christinechriscra@pitt.educhriscra
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Date: 27 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 February 2018
Approval Date: 27 June 2018
Submission Date: 25 June 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 135
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Counterspace, Black women, Graduate School, Black Feminist Thought, Narrative Inquiry
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2018 16:18
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2018 16:18


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