An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Black Women Diversity and Inclusion Leaders in Sport Organizations

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Ajhanai C.I. Keaton Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

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Athletic Diversity and Inclusion Officers (ADIOs) are novel leadership positions in sport tasked with creating and sustaining diverse, inclusive, and equitable athletic departments. Interestingly, Black women have assumed many of the Division I ADIO positions. Thus, they seek to lead inclusionary efforts in an organizational field with sustained issues of gender and racial exclusion. This hermeneutic phenomenological study applied a Black feminist lens to examine what it means to be a Black woman ADIO who leads diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in gendered and racialized Division I collegiate athletic departments. This study has three themes: (a) the ADIO position elicits the Strong Black Woman stereotype, inducing emotional fatigue; (b) Black women ADIOs are positioned as athletic departments’ conscience, often interpreting substantive and symbolic diversity, equity, and inclusion practices; and (c) Black women ADIOs center their perception of affirmative prescriptions of Black womanhood in an attempt to withstand the adverse realities of ADIO leadership.

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