Date of Award

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Hinsdale Bernard

Second Advisor

Sylvia Gonzalez

Third Advisor

Elvin Gabriel

Abstract

Problem. The purpose of this study was to discover factors that influence the political career choice of African American women legislators to serve in the State of Michigan Congress. Therefore, this study focused on motivations that affected three African American women legislators' political experiences.

Method. This study used a case-study approach, and the end result is a multi-faceted case study of the political experiences of three State of Michigan African American women legislators. The techniques used in the ethnographic research---interviews, observations, note-taking, and reviews of public and personal documents---were intended to increase understanding of the observed phenomena. Data from these different sources enhanced the analysis and interpretation of the narrative portion of the three case studies.

Results. Throughout this study the three informants spoke of influences that affected their political career decisions. Descriptive narrative accounts of various political challenges that each research subject experienced while seeking election and upon becoming an elected official are also provided through the context of this research.

Conclusions. According to the research findings, informants were encouraged by family, friends, and other members of their support networks to pursue political aspirations despite the frequent gender and racial discrimination encountered throughout the informants' political experiences. Internal and external motivators such as personal resolve, sheer determination, and reliance on spiritual guidance enabled these informants to achieve political success.

Political neophytes may use these findings to analyze and, where suited, re-chart their efforts or energies and political career advancement. Additionally, this study may serve as a motivational resource for professionals in various fields by identifying and describing individuals who demonstrated persistence to achieve their desired career goals.

Subject Area

African American women legislators--Michigan, Women legislators--Michigan

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