Womanist and feminist qualitative researchers continue to identify research methods and techniques that harness the power of social networking and personal connections while engaging with marginalized populations. Many have found that the use of snowball sampling allows increased access to individuals and groups that may otherwise remain inaccessible. The purpose of this article is to discuss the use of snowball sampling techniques within womanist and feminist research. The authors offer critical reflections of the use of this sampling technique as a tool that allows researchers access to “hidden” and marginalized populations. An example of the use of snowball sampling in a doctoral research project, which looks at the experiences of Black women faculty in New Mexico’s institutions of higher education, is provided. The article concludes with recommended strategies and key considerations about the use of snowball sampling in womanist research.


Womanist Theory, Qualitative Research, Snowball Sampling, Hidden and Marginalized Populations

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Xeturah Woodley is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at New Mexico State University, where she teaches instructional design and technology. Her research, teaching and service weave together Black womanist thought, critical race theory and social justice praxis as she interrogates the inherent biases that plague American higher education. Dr. Woodley’s research interests include Black womanist thought, critical pedagogies and social justice issues in higher education. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Xeturah M. Woodley at, xwoodley@nmsu.edu.

Ms. Megan Lockard is a doctoral student and research assistant in the College of Education at New Mexico State University. Her research interests include learning technologies, qualitative research methods and social justice in education. In addition to her doctoral work, Ms. Lockard is a community college educator and social justice advocate. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Megan Lockard at, melock14@nmsu.edu.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




Submission Location


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.