Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Jioni Lewis

Committee Members

Joe Miles, Patrick Grzanka, Chonika Coleman-King


The purpose of this study was to develop a theoretical model for the meaning making process of Black women’s gendered racial identity development. A total of 19 Black women at a large public Predominantly White Southeastern University participated in semi-structured individual interviews about their gendered racial identity development. Drawing on intersectionality theory as an interpretive framework and Black Feminist Thought as an epistemology, the data was analyzed using a modified version of constructivist grounded theory. Findings revealed three identity development phases including: Protective Acceptance, Identity Management, and Internalization Phase, each of which contained three identity types, including: Assimilation, Defiance, Adaptation, Humanist, Disempowerment, Resistance, Embodiment, Realist, and Empowerment. These identity development phases and identity types represent Black women’s values, beliefs, and attitudes towards the mean making process of their gendered racial identity. Results also indicated that various critical incidents contributed to an increase in Black women’s critical awareness of their intersecting identities throughout the identity development process. This study found that as Black women increased their critical awareness of their gendered racial identity, they developed an ability to challenge societal norms and stereotypes of Black womanhood and internalized their own meaning of being a Black woman. The current study extends previous social identity research and fills gaps in the research literature on understanding Black women’s identity development process at the intersection of gender and racial identity.

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