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Winkle-Wagner authors paper looking at expectations placed on black women in college

October 12, 2018

UW-Madison’s Rachelle Winkle-Wagner is the lead author on a paper that was recently published in the American Educational Research Journal that examines expectations placed on black women in higher education.

Winkle-Wagner is an associate professor with the School of Education's Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis‚Äč, and a faculty affiliate of the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE). The report is co-authored with Bridget Turner Kelly of the University of Maryland's College of Education, Courtney Luedke of UW-Whitewater and Tangela Blakely Reavis of Tulane University. Luedke and Reavis both earned their doctorates from UW-Madison’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

The report is titled, “Authentically Me: Examining Expectations That Are Placed Upon Black Women in College.”

According to the paper’s abstract: “Through analyzing critical life stories with Black alumnae from predominantly White institutions (PWIs), this article offers a narrative, in-depth approach to explore the ways in which alumnae managed and resisted expectations and stereotypes that were placed upon them by peers, faculty, and staff during college. Findings suggested that participants grappled with assumptions of who they should be as Black college women. As they resisted stereotypes and expectations, they crafted unique pathways toward asserting their authentic selves. The findings emphasize heterogeneity among Black women and the need for varied support structures in educational institutions.”

The paper notes that “data for this project stem from a larger, critical life story project about the reflections of Black women college alumnae who graduated from 1955 to 2014 and who were living in five metropolitan areas. In this analysis, we examined data from 26 Black college alumnae who were living in Chicago before choosing to emphasize in-depth narratives of four of these women.”

The paper concludes by explaining that the “narratives in this study are representative of some of the expectations of Blackness that the Black women faced while in college, particularly at PWIs. While some PWIs recruit and retain Black students through cultural centers and diversity programs that bring students a sense of a Black community on campus, many institutional efforts are not nuanced in ways that address the diverse needs of students. This study brings to life intraracial differences between the Black women participants while also pointing to ways institutions can support rather than hinder intersectional identity development. There is not a single monolithic group of Black women on college campuses. Programs and educators who create progressive and liberating opportunities for students will help them not just graduate, but to thrive.”

To learn much more about this important but nuanced topic, make sure and read the entire article on this American Educational Research Journal web page

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