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Abstract

In 1986, sociologist Patricia Hill Collins published the groundbreaking essay, “Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought.” In that pivotal piece, she describes the unique experiences and perspectives of Black women faculty in academia, specifically within predominately-white institutions (PWI’s). Today, Black women faculty account for only 3 percent of all faculty nationwide (Ryu, 2010), and face a myriad of challenges related to their social location. Racism, sexism, and other interlocking oppressions create troubling obstacles for Black women at all levels in academia (Benjamin, 1998; Collins, 2000; Gregory, 2001; hooks, 1989; King, 1988). Using Collins’ work as a starting point and theoretical grounding, this article will offer a demographic portrait of Black women’s participation in American higher education, present a review of the literature, and provide recommendations for future research.

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