Examining Relationships Matter


Black Women
doctoral student
Community Cultural Wealth
student success

How to Cite

Lane, T. B., Patterson-Stephens, S. M., Perez, E. N. and Foster Pierre, D. (2022) “Examining Relationships Matter: A Qualitative Study of Black Women in Doctoral Education”, Journal of African American Women and Girls in Education, 2(1), pp. 27–46. doi: 10.21423/jaawge-v2i1a43.


The purpose of this study was to explore how and why various relationships bolstered the success of Black women doctoral students by contributing to their motivation and persistence in graduate education. Using the voices of 14 Black women doctoral students within the United States and community cultural wealth as a theoretical lens, this qualitative study sought to examine the nature and importance of supportive relationships that existed during their graduate studies. Findings from this study revealed that family served as a motivator for enrollment and degree completion, a sounding board during trying times, and a space for processing the doctoral experience. Friends and professional associations transmitted various forms of social capital, and mentors served as advocates and facilitators of professional socialization. Additionally, social media played a significant role in helping Black women establish networks when there was limited visibility of or access to other Black women in their graduate programs. From this study, academic programs may be able to glean which aspects of these different relationship types (e.g., family, friends, mentors) matter and develop mechanisms for incorporating them into the experiences of Black women (and other minoritized groups) in doctoral programs.


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