In recent years, a highly disturbing situation related to the underrepresentation of African American females in higher education has undergone substantial positive changes. However, despite this fact, African American women currently experience multiple problems and face substantial challenges and higher education barriers of different origins. African American females may be regarded as a considerably underrepresented group within STEM disciplines, such as engineering or computer science (Charleston, et al., 2014). Homogeneous environments, white institutions, in particular, that are “generally not welcoming to African American women” limit their opportunities to pursue academic degrees (Charleston, et al., 2014, p. 166). According to the report of the National Science Board, in the United States, 70% of 3.5 million engineers and scientists are whites (Charleston, et al., 2014). In general, African American females are typically isolated in the Scientific sphere on the basis of gender and racial discrimination.
The problem that is addressed in this paper is that African American women traditionally face multiple higher education barriers – from their matriculation to the earning of academic degrees. Researches in this sphere are highly significant as they propose concrete actions in order to improve the existing situation. In addition, education paradigms may be regarded as a specific context that allows discussing the African American females’ barriers related to socialization in the educational environment. In general, their traditional issues include the feeling of difference and separateness, perception of prejudice, a lack of support, victimization, racial and gender discrimination, and a lack of an advancement opportunity (Gardner, et al., 2014). The purpose of this study, defined as quantitative, is the examination of African American females’ barriers, challenges, and issues associated with higher education. This study may be considerably useful for the subsequent development of an action plan in order to change the current situation in this sphere through effective actions. Potential activities may include the creation of support groups in educational institutions, the development of preventative practices against discrimination, and the promotion of collaboration.
In order to reflect the experience of African American females in higher education, it is essential to examine their nature concerning interactions and relations in educational settings. In addition, this paper refers to barriers or limitations identified by African American women that prevent them from the effective performance as professionals and learners and their attitudes toward observed disturbing situations and experienced challenges. The study addresses not only barriers and challenges of women but factors related to higher learning as well that allow concentrating on the perceptions of the target audience. That is why the research questions may be identified as: What barriers for African American women in higher education exist? What barriers do females identify? How may education paradigms be applied in this context? What actions may authorities, activists, and scientists take in order to improve the current situation?
The study includes a theoretical framework that provides particular socio historical lenses that are essential for the understanding of the study participants’ experiences. In addition, the theoretical base implies the investigation of the phenomenological approach and critical race and social learning theories. The paper is conducted on the basis of the qualitative research study of African American women’s barriers in the area of higher education. The current research requires the application of the phenomenological methodology. The main instruments of data collection include observations and interviews. The study’s target population are African American females directly involved in higher education in the United States. Particular attention should be paid not only to students but educational institutions’ employees as well. The application of a theoretical framework and its combination with collected data enables to enrich its critical analyses. In general, a qualitative approach gives the scholar an opportunity to conduct concerned and in-depth researches with the participants’ perspective that explain contextual conditions and behavior in a more appropriate way. In addition, phenomenology may be regarded as the most appropriate method of this study as it may generally provide on-depth discovery pf recurring themes through data retrieved and extensive interview techniques.
The process of data collection consisted of multiple individual interviews with participants. Every interview was conducted with a participant on an individual basis and in a private area. All conversations were audio-recorded for the transcription of dialogues and subsequent analysis by the researcher. Moreover, audio-recording was essential for the procedures of member-checking in order to ensure the information’s credibility. After the transcription with the help of the software engine, every interview was analyzed through multiple complex readings to identify and categorize the experience of every participant of the research. In general, the author’s description of the research may be regarded as highly appropriate. Higher education is an expansive discipline, and the examination of related issues inevitably requires a multilevel approach. In order to understand the perceptions of numerous African American women and apply a theoretical base to make conclusions, several levels of research are imperative. The use of this methodology may be considered as considerably useful for personal research due to its complexity, accuracy, and reliability.
Charleston, L. J., George, P. L., Jackson, J. F. L., Berhanu, J., & Amechi, M. H. (2014). Navigating underrepresented STEM spaces: Experiences of black women in U.S. computing science higher education programs who actualize success. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(3), 166-176. Web.
Gardner, L., Barrett, T. G., & Pearson, L. C. (2014). African American administrators at PWIs: Enablers of and barriers to career success. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 7(4), 235-251.