Emancipating Women 

In this post, Holly Slay Ferraro, an associate professor in the Villanova School of Business and Academic Director for DEI Research and Teaching, discusses her paper, “Disrupting Dominant Narratives and Privilege: Teaching Black Women’s Enterprise and Activism,” published in the Journal of Management Education.

2020 was a big year for most – the onset of the pandemic, the deaths of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Toni McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery – and made it clear to many people that their lives were forever changed. I was one of those people.

Honestly, for years I’d been trying to move from writing what I thought had currency in the field to things that I believed were important. I felt a little trapped by my training and, frankly, by my desire to be known within the field. A lot of my writing and teaching wasn’t aligned with my values. 

Rocked by the events of 2020, I went back to my roots. I wanted to know about Black women and the roles they played in emancipation because I needed to learn from them. I thrust myself into reading Black history and was drawn to Black businesswomen, emancipating women – women who liberated themselves and others, who changed the narrative. My paper is about counter storytelling (changing the narrative) and incorporating the voices of Black women to help us understand how business can emancipate. 

I’ve been influenced by a number of authors in writing this piece but four standout: Simone Phipps, Leon Prieto, Julia Walker, and Jessica Nembhard. I must give a special shout out to Phipps and Prieto. Their article in the Academy of Management Learning and Education on the business curriculum of historically Black colleges and universities and their text on Black business history have been so inspiring. I teach their material and tell other people about it all the time. I believe they are changing the canon. 

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Holly Slay Ferraro

Holly Slay Ferraro is a an Associate Professor in the Villanova School of Business and Academic Director for DEI Research and Teaching.

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