Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Christine D. Thomas

Second Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier

Third Advisor

Tisha Lewis Ellison

Fourth Advisor

Pamela Seda


The research shows a lack of representation of Black women in mathematics education. The purpose of this study was to explore Black women’s perspectives on how their mathematical experiences influenced their decisions to pursue a doctoral degree in mathematics education. To address this issue the following research questions were explored: What perspectives do Black women who are in pursuit of a doctorate of philosophy degree in mathematics education have about their mathematical experiences? How have those perspectives of their experiences influenced their pursuit of a doctorate of philosophy in mathematics education? For this study purposeful sampling was used to select seven participants, that classify themselves as Black women and are currently in a doctoral program in mathematics education. Individual and group interviews conducted with the participants were analyzed using a grounded theory approach to gain an understanding of their mathematical experiences as learners with respect to their trajectories in becoming doctoral students in mathematics education. The Black women that participated in this study had positive feelings about their mathematical abilities. This resulted in confident mathematical identities. The mathematical environment included classrooms with supportive teachers, classmates that were mainly Black, and an even split between the genders. Once this environment was challenged a crisis occurred which caused them to lose confidence in themselves. All of the participants began teaching secondary mathematics as a career change from their initial undergraduate degree. Their initial graduate degrees were in conjunction with their decision to pursue a career as a mathematics educator. The decision to pursue a doctoral degree was out of a personal desire to advance academically as well as desire to effect change within their community. The findings of this study support an achievement motivation framework. This research presents an initial understanding of how perspectives of mathematical experiences influence their decision to pursue doctoral degrees in mathematics education.