February 23, 2016

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created a forum for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Questions about POS Research Incubator Sessions can be directed to Julia Lee at jooalee@umich.edu.

Title: How do Black Clergywomen Define and Experience Positive Leader Identities?

Abstract: My dissertation uses a phenomenological approach to investigate how Black Christian clergywomen construct, experience, and make meaning of their positive leader identities in the church. Positive work-related identities enable individuals to broaden their cognitive resources, access to networks, ability to endure stress, and desire to take on more challenges (Dutton, Roberts, & Bednar, 2010). To date, we know little about how specific work contexts might affect positive identity development among individuals with marginal identities. Black clergywomen take on spiritual leader identities in their profession. As leaders of faith-based institutions, clergy members have a need to construct and develop leader identities grounded in virtues that are central to their spiritual growth and faith life. Similar to other identities, individuals feel a need to construct leader identities that are inherently positive so that they may cultivate interpersonal and cognitive resources. In this study, I draw upon intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 1991) and Black feminist thought (Collins, 2001) to assess how Black women’s unique social location influences their construction of positive leader identities. Black religious thought and womanist theologies are rooted in liberation from oppression virtuous qualities such as justice, hope, and suffering (Cone, 1985; Grant, 1989). I argue that Black clergywomen may construct their leader identities through these virtues that are foundational to their clerical practice. Because of the historic importance of the church in Black communities, and because of liturgical interpretations of the Bible concerning women’s roles in the church, I will conduct life narrative interviews of self-identified Black women clergy who work in Protestant denominations of the Christian faith. During my incubator talk, I hope to overview my main theory and a proposed phenomenological design.

Bio: I am currently completing my PhD in the Personality and Social Contexts area of the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan where I study marginalized persons’ positive identity construction processes in the workplace based on their experiences as leaders and targets of discrimination. I am especially interested in the cultural strengths and virtues that encourage the full inclusion, representation, and advancement of women, people of color, and women of color in organizations. I am an active member of the positive identity working group within Positive Organizational Scholar, the interdisciplinary study of racism lab at the Institute for Social Research, and investigating positive psychological principles (e.g., altruism) among individuals of Black and Caribbean descent in the Positive Constructions of Black and Urban Lives Lab.