It is that same sense of marginality that shapes the perspective of these women. Because of an ever-present sense of marginality, African-American women in academe do, indeed, share "...those experiences and ideas...that provide a unique angle of vision on self, community, and society..." (Collins 1990, 22, emphasis added). As outsiders within, as "African-American women [who] have a distinct view of the contradictions between the dominant group's actions and [its] ideologies" (Collins 1990, 11), the views and insights provided by the African-American women whose narratives are shared in this paper provide this unique angle in an interpretation of their experiences in the academic profession. They are diverse in their views and opinions while simultaneously sharing a commonality based on their experiences as participants, following (Boykin 1986), in mainstream, minority and, to varying degrees, African-American cultural experience(s).
African-American women in the academic profession must contend with the pressures
associated with working in an historically white, middle- and upper middle-class,
male-dominated profession while simultaneously attempting to balance the demands of life
outside the professional domain. The problems associated with maintaining this balance
have only recently begun to be addressed. While there has been an increase within the last
decade in the volume of scholarly and journalistic work dedicated to issues associated
with the personal and professional lives of women (e.g., Faludi 1991; Gerson 1985; Freeman
1990), in most cases middle class white women have been the focus of such endeavors. The
issues faced by African-American and other women of color have most often been ignored or
Articles providing comprehensive analyses of the situation of African-American women in academe have begun to appear in increasing numbers (i.e., Bell 1990; Denton 1990; in eds, James and Farmer (1993); Talley-Ross 1995; Benjamin 1997). Previously, others who specifically address issues associated with being an African-American woman in academe include Moore (1981), Carroll (1982), Coleman-Burns (1989), Moses (1989) and (eds.) James and Farmer (1993).