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To be both black and a woman in American society has most typically meant being cumulatively disadvantaged with regard to positions of power and prestige. Holding these multiple negatively evaluated statuses has meant that black women have clustered at the very bottom of most strata. This paper explores the patterns leading to success of a small minority of black women who have managed to work in occupations of high rank. It points to the special factors which have not only canceled the negative effect of holding statuses of low rank, but which have produced a positive and facilitating context for career. Among these are the models in the black community of women as "doers"; the support of extended kin in assisting women with family responsibilities; pressure on black women to be economically productive and financially independent; and a number of other conditions leading to self-confidence and autonomy.


This work was originally published in American Journal of Sociology, available at doi:10.1086/225410

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