Revising the Status Quo: Romantic Relationship Patterns Among Black and Latina Doctoral Students
Mentor:Belinda Tucker , Vice Provost, UCLA Institute of American Cultures, University of California Los Angeles
The demographics of institutions of higher education have changed greatly over the last three decades, and as of 2007 women surpassed men in graduate school enrollment and degree completion (Council of Graduate Schools, 1999-2009). Although society has made significant strides toward lessening the gender representation gap in the academy, women continue to be subjected to feelings of isolation and second-class citizenship (Lemert, 2004) that are compounded when race is taken into consideration. Ethnic minority women are marginalized on two fronts: race and gender. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these women face greater pressures than White women and African American males while in pursuit of their doctoral degrees. Though there is some research on the experiences of women of color as graduate students, relatively little work addresses the role of these women as social beings outside of their academic lives. This project will add to existing literature by examining the ways that African American (used interchangeably with Black) women and Latinas form, navigate, and maintain romantic relationships, while juggling their responsibilities as doctoral students. Using the theoretical frameworks of Black feminist thought and feminist mestizaje, I seek to examine and gain insight into the romantic relationship negotiations and patterns displayed by Black and Latina women while in pursuit of their doctoral degrees. I plan to conduct in-depth interviews of ten self-identifying African American and Latina women across varying areas of graduate study (e.g., the sciences, humanities, social sciences) at UCLA in order to understand the interplay between race, gender, romantic relationships, and graduate study.