Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

John A. Saltmarsh

Second Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Third Advisor

Laura L. Beauvais


Social identity is an underexplored determinant in industrial and organizational psychology work performance research. The few studies have focused on race and gender as separate variables, representing a methodological limitation when conducting research with minoritized groups, such as Black women, who straddle multiple social identities. Critical social theorists have addressed this limitation by employing intersectionality frameworks, which deconstruct, interrogate, and problematize the meaning and consequences of multiple social identities in the context of power relations between dominant and subordinated groups. Regrettably, work performance research fails to account for how power relations in predominantly White organizations affect the work performance of Black women who are members of two historically subordinated groups. Therefore, my research problem is the ways intersectionality, particularly race and gender, affects the work performance of Black women administrators at predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Employing an intersectionality framework coined critical Black feminist research methodology, my study explores Black women administrators’ perceptions of their intersectionality in the U.S. and whether and how they perceive their intersectionality as affecting four dimensions of their work performance at PWIs.

My research discoveries underscore the importance of studying social identity, particularly intersectionality, as a determinant of work performance. First, the narrators described a dissonance between being proud but endangered as Blacks, privileged but subordinated as women, and resilient but double burdened as Black women. Second, the narrators described six distinguishing features of their lived work experiences (isolated in their work roles, committed to serving minoritized groups, assigned racialized and/or gendered work tasks, judged by different standards, treated with little regard, and objectified by colleagues). Third, the narrators described three responses to their lived work experiences (being hypervigilant, paying the Black tax, and engaging in identity work). Fourth, the narrators’ responses to their lived work experiences affected four dimensions of their work performance (task performance, contextual performance, adaptive performance, and counterproductive work behavior). Within these dimensions, the narrators encountered four controlling images rooted in racialized and/or gendered expectations of their work performance (the mammy, the Black lady, the strong Black woman, and the angry Black woman). I conclude with recommendations for research, theory, and practice.


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