Date of Award

2-12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Greg Brack, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Michele Hill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Catherine Chang, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Joel Meyers, Ph.D.

Abstract

How one perceives and copes with such experiences in graduate education can have profound impact upon the personal and professional experiences of minority women in higher education. This study utilized a grounded theory approach (Glasser & Strauss, 1967; Cresswell, Fassinger, 2005) to investigate the impact of perceived racial and ethnic discrimination occurring in academia and effective methods of coping with perceived racial/ ethnic discrimination among 10 women of color in graduate education. Data sources included individual interviews and a group interview meeting. This study allowed women of color who have felt marginalized to experience a sense of connectedness as they shared their experiences as a means of coping in and of itself, and evaluated the experience of the women’s participation in the research. Lastly, institutional factors that may be useful to the personal and professional development of women of color in higher education and in combating racial and ethnic discrimination were also assessed. Emerging results demonstrated that while women of color experience a wide range experiences of racism/discrimination, overwhelmingly they experienced microaggressions –mainly a lack of visibility and minimization of racial/cultural issues. The impact of racial and ethnic discrimination and microaggressions in academic environments ranged from the personal to the professional. Coping factors included a variety of emotion-focused and problem-focused strategies, but highlighted social coping. Cognitive processes were found useful in terms of negotiating variables such as power, their ability to be educative, professional consequences, and emotional factors. Protective, educational, and institutional factors that may be helpful in moderating the impact of such experiences are discussed.

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