First generation perspective : a qualitative case study examining the trickle-down effect of hegemony on the career development of first-generation professional Black males in leadership.


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For many first-generation Black men in America who aspired to break the cycle of poverty within their communities, their career aspirations became overshadowed by the harsh realities that still exist in America. These harsh realities reflected the absence of positive Black male role models in leadership positions across America and the continued dominance of White men as the ruling class. Based on the history of White dominance in America as described by the Theory of Hegemony, White men believed Black men are incapable of functioning in an intellectual capacity, representing the controlling interest of the dominant group (Femia, 1987). When faced with the reality of racial inequality in leadership, first-generation Black men steered away from pursuing occupations in fields dominated by White men and gravitated towards sports and entertainment. Considering these facts, aspiring first-generation Black men found it frustrating to navigate a hegemonic system. This qualitative descriptive case study originated from my experiences and perceptions as a first-generation, professional Black male in my plight to successfully navigate traditional career development models based on hegemonic principles. Using the Theory of Hegemony and Career Development Theory as the theoretical framework, this research study examined the practices and experiences of eight first-generation professional Black males in leadership who successfully navigated a career development model. This research identified the factors associated with the trickle-down effect of hegemony in creating mass disparities among first-generation Black males in the areas of career stereotypes, self-efficacy, career aspirations, and role models. This study’s key themes and consistent findings suggested a lack of generational education, generational wealth, and generational knowledge passed on to guide and assist future first-generation Black males in developing their careers. These disparities and limitations confronting Black men in their quest to achieve advancement to leadership positions reinforced similar oppressive constraints and tactics used by White men during slavery. Understanding the magnitude of the trickle-down effect of hegemony on the career development aspirations of first-generation Black males in leadership, leaders can offset the ongoing implications of inequitable career development practices to achieve true leadership diversity and inclusion across every employment sector.



Career development. Career guidance. Career coaching. Vocational guidance. Career education. Professional development. Career planning. Career management. Career counseling. Career theory. Career advancement. Adult learning. African American professional men.