Theses Doctoral

Black Women's Use of Virtual Educator Affinity Groups While Working in Hostile Environments

Kirk, Mia H.

The racialized hostile work environments that many Black women educators experience may lead to their departure from the P-12 schools where they work. Studying the experiences of Black women educators provides a distinct pathway for inquiry due to their positioned intersectionality of gender and race and their percentage of representation within the Black teaching workforce in the United States. Hence, the purpose of this study was to explore with a sample of Black women educators how participation in self-sought, virtual, educator race-based affinity groups impacts their learning experiences while working within racialized hostile environments.

Using Critical Race Theory—with a focus on intersectionality and counterstorytelling— as a lens, this study employed an explanatory sequential mixed method design. Black women educators who work (or who have worked) in a public Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 school (P-12) in the United States, who experienced racial hostility while working as educators, and who were members of virtual educator race-based affinity groups were eligible to participate in this study. Seventy Black women educators from 24 states within the United States of America participated in Phase One of this study by completing a survey comprised of the researcher’s survey that included the measurement of two constructs—racialized experiences at work and learning experiences in virtual educator affinity groups—and the Gendered Racial Microaggressions Scale (GRMS) (Lewis & Neville, 2015). The GRMS measured the participants’ frequency and appraisal of microaggressions based on the intersectionality of their gendered racial identity. Phase Two of this study included semi-structured interviews with a nested sample of 18 participants and one focus group comprised of 5 participants. Both the interview and focus group participants completed Phase One of the study.

This study yielded key assertions that included, but were not limited to, the acknowledgment that an interpersonal power imbalance is likely in racialized hostile work environments where Black women educators report experiencing gendered racial microaggressions. Accordingly, learning experiences at work or within virtual Black educator groups can lead to Black women educators feeling like disempowered or empowered learners. This study culminated with recommendations for practice designed specifically for Black women educators, building-based school administrators, school district administrators, educational policy makers, and educator preparation programs to better support aspiring Black women educators/teacher candidates hired to work in P-12 schools that may have a teaching staff that lacks ethno-racial diversity.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Kirk_tc.columbia_0055E_11343.pdf Kirk_tc.columbia_0055E_11343.pdf application/pdf 3.6 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Bitterman, Jeanne
Sealey-Ruiz, Yolanda
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 15, 2023