School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Meredith Park


Non-traditional Career, Cultural Identity, Career Advisors, Race, Gender




The purpose of this applied study was to solve the problem of freshman African American female students being unaware of careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, at universities located in the United States’ southern region and to formulate a solution for career advisors to implement. Historically, African American female students have identified with traditional female career fields in nursing, caretaking, and teaching and have infrequently pursued non-traditional careers. For African American female students, educational accomplishments yield access to professional advancement possibilities, higher wages, extensive job opportunities, and job satisfaction, especially when they are aware of underrepresented careers. Krumboltz (1976) and Pask’s (1975) career selection theories were explored to identify barriers that would interfere with career advisors exploring non-traditional careers with this student population. This study adopted a multimethod approach of gathering data that incorporated qualitative and quantitative methodologies by utilizing semistructured interviews, a review of university documents, and a survey that utilized a 5-point Likert scale. The overwhelming theme that resonated throughout the study was the importance of improving communication and trust between career advisors and freshman African American female students. As the enrollment of African American females continues to increase, cultural sensitivity and awareness training emerged as pivotal for universities to embrace. Students are also encouraged to meet with a career advisor their freshman year to explore career opportunities they may not have considered and to become familiar with other available services.

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