The career development of senior-level African American women working in community and technical colleges in the United States
Wilson, Patricia Ann
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The purpose of this study was to examine the career development of senior-level African American women working in community and technical colleges in the United States. The research questions guiding this study were: (1) What factors played a significant role in the career advancement of the women in this study? (2) What were the common mentoring experiences of the women in the study? and (3) What were the common strategies the women in this study used to advance their career? A qualitative study was conducted of the nine senior-level African American women in the state’s two-year college system. Interviewing was the primary data collection method. Each interview was tape recorded and transcribed. Observation and documents were additional data collection methods employed in the study. The constant comparative method was the specific data analysis tool used to uncover the emerging commonalities and themes among the research participants. Data analysis revealed that there were three factors that played a significant role in the career advancement of the women in the study. These three factors were professional development opportunities, support systems, and double jeopardy experiences. Further data analysis revealed that foundational and career-related mentoring experiences were common experiences among the African American women in the study. Finally, data analysis uncovered that the women in the study employed myriad strategies to advance their career such as acceptance of ownership of their careers, recognition of the value to continually invest in selfdevelopment, the importance of staying grounded from a spiritual perspective, and the need to hone their interpersonal skills. Four conclusions were drawn from the study. First, formal professional development opportunities are needed for African American women to promote their career development and advancement. Second, proactive self-management and career management are critical to the career development of senior-level African American women. Third, support networks are crucial to the career development of African American women. Fourth, issues of diversity need to be managed in order for African American women to succeed in the workplace.