Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Halmos College of Arts and Sciences - Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Mary Hope Schwoebel

Second Advisor

Robin Cooper

Third Advisor

Ismael Muvingi


African American Women, Black Women, Hair, Intersectionality, Microaggressions, structural Violence


The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the impact on the career advancement of Black women in the federal government who choose to wear their hair in its natural textured state. The researcher used a structural narrative approach and thematic analysis, guided by the following research question: What are Black women’s experiences when they choose to wear their hair in its natural state as they seek career advancement in the federal government? The two major theories used in this study to elucidate participants’ experiences were structural violence and intersectionality. The following theories provided insight and context to intersectionality: critical race theory, critical feminist theory, and Black feminist thought. Data analysis provided an emergence of six themes: (1) respectability politics; (2) gendered microaggressions; (3) health (4) lack of meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion; (5) financial implications; and (6) authenticity/identity/liberation. The study's results illuminated the conflicts and barriers that Black women encounter in the Federal government as they seek to advance their careers. The results provide opportunities for organizational leaders to address the root causes of conflicts and barriers associated with the marginalization of Black women.