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Intersectionality of Personal and Professional Identities: Portraits of Perception Management, Sustainable Values and Developmental Relationships Open Access

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Intersectionality: The "Outsider Within" Privilege of Maternal Relationshipsand the Empowerment of Sustainable Values Over the last 30 years, intersectionality has been portrayed as a dichotomy of privilege and oppression, positioning people in a "matrix of dominance" or focusing on "differences" between intersecting race, class, and gender categories (Anderson & Collins, 2007; Collins, 2000a; Crenshaw, 1995a,b). Intrasectional experiential exploration has been suggested to (1) divulge commonalities and differences within traditional race, class, and gender intersections (McCall, 2005; Shields, 2008); (2) identify identity factors that define individuals and inform personal/professional behavior and choices; and (3) paint portraits of differences with the expectation that inequities will inevitably emerge, be acknowledged, be addressed, and promote positivity, not negativity.This study's theoretical conversation is grounded by the intersectionality, personal and professional identity (integration), and African American feminist literatures. The empirical dialogue is anchored by explorations of the life histories of three African American women whose professional roles as managing directors in Wall Street banking are integrated into their personal selves. Their "selves" also comprise additional values, factors, and roles that emerged during the study, which was guided by three research questions: How do African American women understand their intersectional identities? How do African American women experience professional identity integration? How do African American women experience simultaneity of intersectional identities? Portraiture methodology (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) was used to distinctively meld researcher creativity and participants' voices; leverage participant/researcher relationships; frame the portraits using theoretical, historical, and aesthetic context; connect the portraits using patterned themes; and reveal more yet not all of the aspects of the participants not normally seen in their public images. Seidman's (1998) three-interview format was used with each participant supplemented by "shadowing" for data collection, and constant comparison (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) was the primary analytical tool. The result was (1) a "mapping" of "common but different" "privileges" of effective maternal relationships; (2) an uncovering of life-sustaining values (Hitlin, 2003) and empowered and effective personal and professional identity integration; (3) empathy and awareness of perceived inequities; (4) "positive social change" (Crenshaw, 1995a; Shields, 2008); and (5) a future for additional intracategorical complex intersectionality (McCall, 2005) studies that make a difference.

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