Date of Award

9-12-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Y. Barry Chung, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Joel Meyers, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Leslie Jackson, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Catherine Y. Chang, Ph.D.

Abstract

This qualitative study explored racial/ethnic and gender identities of African descent women. Specifically, 13 African descent women were interviewed about influences on their racial/ethnic and gender identities, the process by such identities developed in order to assess the applicability of current theories, and whether they perceive an interaction between their racial/ethnic and gender identities. Phase One, an initial focus group informed Phase Two of the study; individual interviews. Phase Three, a member-checking focus group, validated themes generated from data analysis. All focus groups and interview sessions followed a semi-structured format. Family, educational experiences, physical features, oppressive experiences, political movements, and religious/spiritual influences were found to shape racial/ethnic identity among participants. Gender identity was found to be influenced by family, motherhood, religion, and physicality. Current identity models were found to, in partially, describe racial/ethnic identity development. Womanist identity was found to most accurately describe the participant’s gender identity development. Finally, an interaction between racial/ethnic and gender identity development was endorsed, however articulation of this relationship was difficult. Research and practical implications are discussed.

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