Disappointed but not Surprised: A Critical Narrative Inquiry of Black Women's Doctoral Experiences in Agricultural and Life Science Disciplines

2020-02-11T18:09:06Z (GMT) by Torrie A Cropps

Although institutions of higher education have been increasing efforts to recruit and retain Black women graduate students, Black women are still low in numbers in graduate programs. Black women have experienced decades of socio-historical challenges that impact their persistence and resistance in graduate education, with the most common being inadequate mentoring, poor socialization, perceived negative campus climate, gendered racial microaggressions,outsider-within status,and a diminished sense of belonging. The hostile climate and culture combined with the overwhelming whiteness of agriculture and life sciences (AgLS) sends a message to Black women that they do not belong in AgLS and perpetuates white supremacy.


The purpose of this study was to describe how intersecting marginalized identities shape the experiences of Black women doctoral students in AgLS disciplines at Historically White Institutions, and how those experiences shape their journey into or away from the professoriate. Two theoretical perspectives informed the study: Critical Race Feminism and Intersectionality. Three rounds of interviews were conducted via Zoom or in person. Initial, simultaneous, and narrative coding were used to analyze the data. There were four conclusions for the study: 1) First-generation status negatively impacted imposter syndrome, 2) avoidance of the Angry Black Woman stereotype, 3) departmental/campus climate and sense of belonging are shaped by practices in the academic environment, and 4) whiteness negatively shapes campus/departmental climate and sense of belonging. Implications for practice, policy, and research were provided, as well as recommendations for future research.