Document Type


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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychology of Women Quarterly





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Author's manuscript accepted for publication. Publisher version available at

Date of Submission

February 2015


Across varied disciplines, attempts have been made to capture the multidimensionality of Black womanhood under a unifying framework illustrative of Black women’s perceived roles, responsibilities, and experiences of intersectional oppression. The result has been the emergence of a number of divergent but overlapping constructs (e.g., Superwoman Schema, Sojourner Truth Syndrome, Sisterella Complex, and Strong Black Woman [SBW] Schema). The goal of our study is to integrate overlapping attributes of existing constructs beneath a single term while also expounding upon the defining characteristics of the SBW Schema. Thematic analyses were conducted with data gathered from eight focus groups with 44 Black women from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Women ranged in age from 18 to 91 and were diverse in religious and educational backgrounds. Data analysis involved iterative processes (i.e., continuous development of new codes and constant comparison of themes). Prominent themes identified as characteristics of the SBW Schema were (a) Embodies and Displays Multiple Forms of Strength, (b) Possesses Self/Ethnic Pride in Spite of Intersectional Oppression, (c) Embraces Being Every Woman, and (d) Anchored by Religion/Spirituality. Mental and physical health outcomes (e.g., psychological distress, depressive symptomology, obesity, and cardiovascular disease risk) associated with characteristics of the SBW Schema underscore the importance of the construct and its exploration.


Copyright © The Author(s). This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Psychology of Women Quarterly, December 2014, vol. 38 no. 4, 503-518. The final publication is available at

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