Theses Doctoral

A [K]ink in the Armor: How the Intersection of Gender and Racial Prototypicality Affect Perceptions of Black Women Aspiring to be Managers

Merriweather, Tarani Joy

Intersectional analyses have made clear that Black women as a group fare far worse in employment outcomes than their race and gender counterparts. However, there is little research that examines differences among Black women. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how Black women are perceived intra-intersectionally, or within the intersection of race and gender. Black women are not monolithic and it is important to illuminate how they are perceived differently from one another. This dissertation explores the effects of differences in skin tone and hair texture among Black women seeking a management position. It was hypothesized that Black women with lighter skin and/or straight hair would be characterized more positively than Black women with darker skin and/or kinky hair; this hypothesis was not supported. However, for negative characteristics, the hypothesis that Black women with darker skin would be characterized more negatively than Black women with lighter skin was confirmed. Further, it was found that hair texture significantly interacts with skin tone such that darker-skinned Black women with kinky hair were characterized more negatively than light-skinned women with kinky hair. There were no significant differences found between the skin tone and hair texture of Black women on salary offers, but there was a marginally significant skin tone effect for perceptions of success in that lighter-skinned Black women are perceived to be more successful than darker-skinned Black women. This study sheds light on the need to look at the intersection of both skin tone and hair texture in order to fully understand how negative stereotypes apply to Black women.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social-Organizational Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Block, Caryn J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2020