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ProQuest 10265546

Published by ProQuest LLC (2017 ). Copyright of the Dissertation is held by the Author.


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© COPYRIGHT

by

Chesmore Simon Montique

2017

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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To my mother, Avis Montique, and my four sisters for creating a feminist.

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THE STRUGGLE IS REAL: THE DATING DILEMMA FOR EDUCATED BLACK WOMEN

INTERESTED IN EDUCATED BLACK MEN

BY

Chesmore Simon Montique

ABSTRACT

There is a disparity in the Black community such that educated Black women outnumber

educated Black men. This becomes a concern for Black women when trying to find a potential

mate of similar racial identity and educational background. The present study seeks to assess the

dating dilemma for educated Black women (Bachelor’s level degree and above) by examining

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their satisfaction with the dating pool, possible responses to the disparity, and the importance of
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their potential mate’s race and education level. A 26-item questionnaire was dispersed to 227

Black women regarding dating preferences and responses to the disparity. Results indicate a
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statistical significance for the importance of both, a partner’s race and education level. Almost

half (48%) of these Black women expressed dissatisfaction with the dating pool but this was not

statistically significant. Dating higher than one’s preferred age range was the most endorsed
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response to the dating dilemma. Overall, women expressed an endorsement for the education

level of their partner being more important than race, but only slightly. Future research and

implications are discussed.

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TABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT ........................................................................................... ii

LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................................... v

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS ......................................................................................................... vi

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1

Present Study .......................................................................................................... 1

Hypotheses .................................................................................................. 2

CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................ 3

Lack of Black Men in College ................................................................................ 3


Why Black Men Are Not Present in Higher Education .......................................... 4

Societal Stigmatization ............................................................................... 4

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Incarceration Rates...................................................................................... 4
Mortality Rates............................................................................................ 5
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The Dating Dilemma for Black Women ................................................................. 6
Effects of the Dating Dilemma ............................................................................... 8
Theories of Mating .................................................................................................. 9
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Natural Selection Theory ............................................................................ 9
Assortative Mating/Social Homogamy ..................................................... 10
Murstein’s Filter Theory ........................................................................... 11

Potential Responses to the Dating Dilemma ......................................................... 12


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Age-Hypogamous Relationships .............................................................. 12


Abstaining ................................................................................................. 13
Sacrificing Education Level ...................................................................... 13
Dating Outside of One’s Race .................................................................. 14

CHAPTER 3 METHODS ................................................................................................ 16

Participants................................................................................................ 16
Survey Instrument ..................................................................................... 17
Measures ................................................................................................... 17
Procedure .................................................................................................. 19

CHAPTER 4 RESULTS .................................................................................................. 21

Desire to Date Black Men ......................................................................... 21


Perception of the Dating Pool ................................................................... 21
Response Strategies Due to Disparity in the Dating Pool......................... 24
Relative Importance of Race and Education Level in a Mate .................. 27
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Differences Across Participants’ Education Levels .................................. 31

CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION ............................................................................................ 33

Desire to Date Black men ......................................................................... 33


Satisfaction with Dating Pool ................................................................... 33
Response Strategies to Deal with Disparity in the Dating Pool................ 34
Race vs. Education Level .......................................................................... 36
Limitations ................................................................................................ 38
Future Research ........................................................................................ 39
Implications............................................................................................... 41

APPENDIX A SURVEY QUESTIONS.......................................................................... 43

APPENDIX B CONSENT FORM .................................................................................. 51

APPENDIX D PROMPT USED IN DISSEMINATING SURVEY ............................... 54

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REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................. 55

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Sample Demographics .................................................................................................... 16

Table 2. Correlation Between Satisfaction with Dating Pool and Difficulty Finding a Black
Male Mate of the Same Education .................................................................................... 23

Table 3. Independent Samples t Tests for Satisfaction and Difficulty Variables for
Relationship Status............................................................................................................ 24

Table 5. Changes in Dating Pattern due to Disparity in Dating Pool (Qualitative Responses) .... 27

Table 6.Independent Sample t Test on Relationship Status and Education Importance .............. 28

Table 7. One-Sample t Test of Mean Score of Education in Budget Allocation of Education


and Race in a Mate ............................................................................................................ 29

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Table 8. One-Sample t Test of Mean Score of Education in Budget Allocation of Education
and Race in a Mate for Single Women ............................................................................. 29

Table 9. Reasons for Importance of Education Level (Qualitative Responses) ........................... 30


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Table 10. Reasons for Importance of Race (Qualitative Responses)............................................ 31
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v
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure 1. Histogram of Satisfaction Variable Likert Responses. ................................................. 22

Figure 2. Mean Distribution Between Education Levels on Difficulty Variable ......................... 32

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, to be loved is a core motivational need

(Maslow, 1943), therefore, the desire for a romantic relationship is not unusual. People look for

specific qualities in a partner such as physical attractiveness, security, provision of resources, and

similarities in various facets, but when these qualities are not present in the pool of potential

mates, how do we respond? Specifically, for Black women with higher education (completion of

a bachelor’s degree or any post-graduate work) interested in dating Black men with a similar or

higher education level, the pool of potential candidates is rather limited. Yale sociologist, Vida

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Maralani, (as cited in Reeves & Rodrigue, 2015) concluded that educated Black women are only
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49% likely to marry a well-educated man compared to their white counterparts (84%). If

interested in dating Black males of similar status, how college-educated Black women handle
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with this dilemma?

Present Study
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The purpose of this study was to examine whether educated Black women interested in a

male partner were interested in dating Black men of equal or higher education level, and if they

were satisfied with the dating pool of educated men and how that related to their difficulty

finding potential mates. The study also sought to determine what strategies these Black women

used in response to the scarcity of Black men with postsecondary education. Lastly, the study

examined which of the two, race or education level, were participants more concerned about

regarding their partner.

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Hypotheses

Several hypotheses were tested in this study. Firstly, we expected that most respondents

would say that race was important to them in finding a partner. In addition, most respondents

would indicate that the education level of their partner is important. These two things being

important implied that they would desire to date a Black man of equivalent education. Both

hypotheses were assumptions of the assortative mating theory in which individuals choose

partners of similar characteristics to their own (Buss, 1985; Eckland, 1982; Thiessen & Gregg,

1980). Another hypothesis was that there would be an overall dissatisfaction amongst women

with the dating pool. This may be realized through reflecting on one’s surroundings that creates

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an awareness of the disparity, leading to more reports of displeasure in their limited dating pool.
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Following, was the belief that the lower levels of satisfaction would have a negative relationship

with reported difficulty in finding prospective educated Black mates.


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No hypotheses were created surrounding the prevalence of a particular response to handle

the dilemma, since this was an exploratory construct in the study, however potential responses

were included in the questionnaire since there was literature supporting their existence. In
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addition, there was a belief that there would be an overall trend towards prioritizing a partner’s

race over education given the historical contexts of the Black struggle in the United States which

has led to racial solidarity, where women would defer their gender needs for the advancement of

the race. It is possible that this trend may still hold in today’s context such that Black women

will forgo their mate’s education level for the desire to be with a Black man. No hypothesis was

made on the likelihood of any of the responses to handle the disparity since extant research did

not suggest which response would be more prominent.

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CHAPTER 2

LITERATURE REVIEW

Lack of Black Men in College

Since 1995, the gap in education attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher between

whites – 25 to 29-years old – and Blacks has grown from 13% to 22%. In 2015, 43% of whites

attained a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 21% of Blacks (NCES, 2016a). Almost three

quarters (72%) of white high-school graduates go straight to college after high school in

comparison to 44% of Black teens (NCES, 2016b). Compounding these two disparities of race

and gender illustrates even more inequality for the Black community. In 2013, 65% of

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Bachelor’s degrees were conferred to Black women in comparison of the 35% awarded to Black
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men (NCES, 2016c). Two years later, Reeves and Rodrigue discovered that white women (37%)

and white men (29%), between 25 to 35-years old, are the most likely to have at least a
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bachelor’s level education while Black women are only 23% likely, followed, lastly, by 16% of

Black men (2015).

These disparities are even more poignant at historically Black colleges and universities
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(HBCUs). As evidence, prominent HBCU, Howard University had an undergraduate female

enrollment of 65.3% for the fall of 2014 (NCES, 2012) and nearly 7 out of every 10 HBCU

graduates are women (Gasman et al., 2010). The gender gap has a positive correlation with the

level of education such that the higher the education level the larger the disproportionate ratio.

This disparity raises an important question: Why aren't Black men present in higher education

levels?

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Why Black Men Are Not Present in Higher Education

Societal Stigmatization

There are a plethora of variables attributing to why Black men are scarce in higher

education. One of them is the stigmatization and stereotyping of Black men beginning in

adolescence. (Townsend Walker, 2012 & Henry, 2013). Young Black boys are typically not

encouraged to excel in their academic lives. This results in disproportional educational tracking –

where children are placed in classes based on their level of academic performance such as

remedial, honors, and college prep courses (Townsend Walker, 2012). This leaves Black boys at

a disadvantage, leaving them susceptible to stereotype threat. Stereotype threat puts individuals

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at risk to conforming to a stigma about one’s group (Steele and Aronson, 1995). Children then
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end up in lower level courses, surrounded by other unmotivated classmates, with teachers that

already have a preconceived notion about their academic potential. African American boys are
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often left with low passing rates and minimal motivation for academic excellence. Because of

stigmatization, Black males are discouraged from excelling academically, leaving many

underprepared and under-motivated for higher education.


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Incarceration Rates

Another reason for the shortage of Black men in academics is the unbalanced rate of

incarceration. The United States makes up a mere 5% of the world’s population, but holds a

quarter of the world’s prisoners, an overwhelming portion of that being African Americans

(NAACP, 2016). Systematically, the U.S. has been directly targeting low socioeconomic

populations for decades; This subjugation is underlined in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix

Documentary 13th (2016). “The drug war has swept millions of poor people of color, a

disproportionate number of whom are black men, into the criminal justice system” (Stanley,

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2011). Instances such as the crack-cocaine epidemic—where charges for possession of crack are

more severe than that of cocaine even though they are the same substance, chemically—has been

a major component in the imprisonment of individuals of low socioeconomic status, chiefly of

Black men. From 1980 to 2008 the prison population sky-rocketed from 500,000 to 2.3 million,

with Black men constituting almost 1 million of that (NAACP, 2016). In 2008, Dixon noted that

though Black people make up about 6% of the U.S. population, they comprise 50% of the prison

population, the highest of all other races. 2010 U.S. Census data (as cited by Sakala, 2014)

indicates that Black are incarcerated 5 times more than whites. This ill-proportioned

imprisonment removes Black men from their communities, affecting the number of Black males

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in neighborhoods, and subsequently from higher education arenas before they can even attempt

to matriculate to college.
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Mortality Rates
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African American men have higher mortality rates than other races. In 2010, life

expectancy was 4.7 years lower than that of white males. (Kochanek, Arias, & Anderson, 2013).
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This lower life expectancy was attributed to higher death rates for Black males with heart

disease, cancer, stroke, perinatal conditions, and homicide (Kochanek, Arias, & Anderson,

2013). But there is another contributing factor for the high mortality rates of Black males. Since

at least 2002, homicide has been the number one cause of death for black males between ages 15

to 34 (CDC, 2017), a cause of death that is uniquely prominent for Black males. Two things were

to be noted from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) statistics. Firstly, records at the CDC

only go back so far, but it is likely that this trend has only been continuing from years prior to the

21st century. Secondly, from 2014 back to at least 2002, all other races’ (White, Hispanic,

American Indian, and Asian), from ages 1-34, leading cause of death was unintentional injuries.