Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

David W. Stinson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Morgin Jones Williams, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christine D. Thomas, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Esposito, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Stephanie Behm Cross, Ph.D.


For centuries, stories of the successes of African American women in mathematics have been somewhat invisible from history books. Their accomplishments, research, and inventions have been buried, stolen, omitted, and overlooked—in a word, hidden (Shetterly, 2016). The purpose of this study is to bring these accomplishments to the forefront by exploring the narratives of African American women mathematics educators. Considering the United States’ tumultuous history of racial and gender oppression and inequality, the plight and contributions of African American women mathematicians has often gone unrecorded and uncelebrated.

Womanism (A. Walker, 1984), therefore, was used as a frame of analysis to honor the experiences of mathematical successful African American women to be fully committed to their survival as women, and to share the practice of self-love (Jain & Turner, 2011–2012). The objective of this study was to identify accomplishments of four African American mathematics educators by collecting data through interviews using narrative case study analysis (e.g., Connelly & Clandinin, 1990) coupled with womanist theory. The research questions that guided the study were inquiring about whether (or not) race and gender had an effect on their matriculation from grade school through college, and if this intersection influenced their success in mathematics. I also inquired about who or what influenced the life and schooling experiences of these successful mathematics educators, and whether (or not) these relationships influence their pedagogical philosophies and teaching practices in the classroom.

Through an analysis of the data, several themes were identified when exploring factors contributing to African American girls’ and women’s success in mathematics education. There were three commonalties: (a) at least one strong African American woman influence; (b) an absence of African American women mathematics teachers growing up or in college; and (c) they built strong insightful relationships with their students. The results indicate a need for African American women in mathematics education as role models in a male dominated field. Participants’ narratives illuminated the intersections of race and gender, their role in the success of African American girls and women in mathematics education, and the theories and methodologies that support the analysis of narratives in research.

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