Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 371–394 | Cite as

General experiences + race + racism = Work lives of Black faculty in postsecondary science education

  • Eileen R. C. Parsons
  • Domonique L. Bulls
  • Tonjua B. Freeman
  • Malcolm B. Butler
  • Mary M. Atwater
Original Paper


Existent research indicates that postsecondary Black faculty members, who are sorely underrepresented in the academy especially in STEM fields, assume essential roles; chief among these roles is diversifying higher education. Their recruitment and retention become more challenging in light of research findings on work life for postsecondary faculty. Research has shown that postsecondary faculty members in general have become increasingly stressed and job satisfaction has declined with dissatisfaction with endeavors and work overload cited as major stressors. In addition to the stresses managed by higher education faculty at large, Black faculty must navigate diversity-related challenges. Illuminating and understanding their experiences can be instrumental in lessening stress and job dissatisfaction, outcomes that facilitate recruitment and retention. This study featured the experiences and perceptions of Black faculty in science education. This study, framed by critical race theory, examines two questions: What characterizes the work life of some Black faculty members who teach, research, and serve in science education? How are race and racism present in the experiences of these postsecondary Black faculty members? A phenomenological approach to the study situates the experiences of the Black participants as valid phenomena worthy of investigation, illuminates their experiences, and seeks to retain the authenticity of their voices.


Science education Black faculty Racism Higher education Critical race theory 



The article material was based on a project funded by the National Science Foundation Grant No. 0840039. The assertions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agency. Many thanks to Mrs. Natasha Hilsman Johnson, a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education for her review of audiotapes and verification of interview transcripts for some of the study participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.School of Teaching, Learning, and LeadershipUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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