G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe

Dissertation Watch: Her Voice Matters: Life Histories of Black Women Teachers’ Working Conditions

G. Funmilayo Tyson-Devoe, a 2024 graduate of Antioch’s PhD in Leadership and Change, recently published her dissertation titled, Her Voice Matters: Life Histories of Black Women Teachers’ Working Conditions.

Through a series of research questions, Tyson-Devoe’s dissertation focuses on the experiences of Black women who teach in urban schools during the era of education reform. The study centers around the relationships amongst their working conditions and neoliberal education policies that affect their work. The origin and themes of Tyson-Devoe’s work center around Black feminist thought and critical race theory.

The research led to findings revolving around leadership, teacher autonomy, camaraderie, collaboration, and student behavior. Black women involved in the study wanted better leadership, autonomy, a pathway that does not lead to principalship but out of the classroom, self-care, and wellness. Tyson-Devoe found that the implication for social change is educational leadership that uses adaptive leadership and social justice leadership, requiring the leaders to have emotional intelligence, social-political awareness, and activism. Big corporations, politicians and business people have set standards for educational leadership, and it has proved to be dangerous, urging educators to support the cease of standardized testing as it is ultimately dehumanizing, negating the human experience.

Tyson-Devoe’s dissertation was centered around the possibility of Black women teachers are at risk of extinction, her research was aimed at amplifying the voices and experiences of Black women teachers, ultimately honoring them in the process. Her call to action is to innovate public education in order for students, teachers, and leaders to thrive, hoping more qualitative research includes the voices of Black women teachers’ working conditions and experiences through the lens of critical race theory and Black feminist thought.

As a Black Queer Woman, Tyson-Devoe empathizes with the challenges of being authentic in spaces that lack understanding and acceptance. With over two decades of experience, Tyson-Devoe holds numerous degrees, including an MA in Leadership and Change and a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University. Throughout her career, she has faced discrimination, isolation, and targeting, experiences that have fortified her voice and commitment to advocacy, particularly for young people and Black women.