Progression to Womanhood: A Framework on the Identity Development of Black American

  • Shawna M. Patterson University of Pennsylvania


There are a number of theoreticalconstructs that highlight the myriad ways that Black women contend withisolation, but few examine the interactions that take place between collegesand Black undergraduate women while they are processing their understandings ofBlack womanhood.  Additionally, currentrenditions of student identity development theory center upon the “Blackexperience” or the “woman’s experience”, but these theoretical constructs lackthe intersectional perspective that is required in fully exploring the racialand gender identification of Black undergraduate women.  Consequently, Progression to Womanhood considers historical and sociopoliticalaccounts when describing Black women’s progression into adulthood.  This conceptual framework discusses thestages of racial and gendered development of Black women in the context of thecollege setting.  Progression connects psychosocial and college impact models inorder to more fully explain the intersectional identity developmentalexperiences of Black college women.

Author Biography

Shawna M. Patterson, University of Pennsylvania
Shawna M. Patterson has sustained nine years of student affairs administrationexperiencewithin the functional areas of residence life and multiculturalservices in the Big 10 and ACC sectors. Currently, Shawna is a Ph.D. candidate in HigherEducation at Florida State University, with a focus on student of color identity development, criticaltheory, and social justice in higher education.  Shawna is also a Dean in College Houses andAcademic Services, as well as a Pre-Major Advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences at theUniversity of Pennsylvania.