Dissertation Defense Announcement

College of Education announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Sara Benson

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

March 28, 2019 at 3:00 PM in Ball Hall, Room 103 

Advisor: Denise Winsor

Behind the Cape: The Black Superwoman, Colorism, and Professional Identity Development

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this Black feminist narrative inquiry study is to explore how Colorism informs the Black Superwoman persona and how that impacts the professional identity development of professional Black women. The Black Superwoman persona is the idea that black women take on all major responsibilities inside and outside of their home with minimum support. Five African American women between the ages of forty and sixty-five who held higher degrees and who lived in urban areas within the Mid-South tri-state region were interviewed. Through a narrative analysis of the data, this dissertation identified five themes across the participants: (1) perceptions of the strong black woman, (2) characteristics of the successful black woman/strong black woman, (3) childhood experiences as motivation for success, (4) the role of female models in the formation of superwoman, and (5) race and the self. Overall findings from this study indicate that despite the participants identifying small instances of colorism, it did not seem to impact their professional identity.