Jill H. White

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gyant, LaVerne, 1950-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Dietitians--United States; Racism in the workplace--United States


Currently there is a lack of representation from communities of color informing the field of dietetics. One might ask is this lacking in the profession by accident or by design. Less than 4% of Registered Dietitians in the US are African American. This study analyzed the impact of white dominance in the field of dietetics. Nineteen African American women who practice nutrition education in the African American community were interviewed regarding their own educational experiences, their practice, and their perception of the profession of dietetics. They were also asked to give their opinions regarding changes that need to take place. Critical race theory (CRT) was utilized as a lens to analyze the findings. CRT identifies the permanence of institutionalized racism in the US, intersected with gender and class oppression. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) called for an increase in diversity in 1984, but the percent of African American dietitians has remained unchanged. Predominantly women, with historical roots in the Home Economics Movement, dietitians remain under-compensated in relation to their education and responsibilities. The women reported racism in their educational histories including exclusion, isolation and marginalization. As nutrition educators, they identified the necessity for culturally sensitive communication with clients regarding food practices and learning styles. The participants described a marginal relationship with ADA, whom they characterized as gatekeepers of the credentials. Obstacles reported to becoming Registered Dietitians centered on difficulties accessing the internship process and the lack of perceived cost/benefit given low salaries. The participants discussed needed changes in the field, including seamless programs and more multicultural education. This study provides a voice for those who have been marginalized in dietetics to provide insight on how the field might become more inclusive and effective. Cultural domination contributes to disparity in healthcare, food access and education. This report serves as a challenge for those who currently educate and lead in the profession to open their minds and doors to the reality of a multicultural world. The alternative points to the need for a new, more representative leadership.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [167]-178)


x, 203 pages




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