The relationship of racial identity and gender role identity to voice representations of African American women in higher education
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Voice representations have been conceptualized as those attitudes and behaviors that African American university women have and exhibit to assist them in managing certain interpersonal relationships in university settings. This study represents an attempt to identify and quantify the attitudinal and behavioral correlates of voice representations with a written questionnaire that includes components of racial and gender role identity. The Voice Representations Questionnaire (VRQ), a measure designed to assess voice representations, was developed and pilot tested by the author. Participants for the study were 102 Black undergraduate women who were recruited from a very large, predominantly White, public state university. Although previous research with African American female students attending a predominantly Black high school revealed that there were three different voice representations, the present study with university women yielded three new types as well as confirmed the three previously identified types. The three new types could be related to the fact that participants in the present study were older, attending university, and the academic environment was predominantly White. Results from the present investigation suggest that different types of voice representations may be needed for coping with different academic environments, i.e., predominantly Black vs. predominantly White university. Principal axis factor analysis yielded six factors and these were labeled: Gender Passing, Silent/Invisible, Passage to Whiteness, Racial Pride, Fitting in with Whites, and Gender Invisibility. These factors were found to have good internal consistency: Factor 1, a = .84; Factor 2, a = .83; Factor 3, a = .72; Factor 4, a = .72; Factor 5, a = .71; Factor 6, a = .67. Correlational and regression analyses were done to explore the relationships among the VRQ, racial identity, and gender role identity instruments. Pearson product moment correlations indicated significant moderate correlations between the subscales of the Racial Identity Attitudes Scale (RIAS) and the VRQ and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) and the VRQ. Linear regression revealed that racial identity was found to be a better predictor of voice representations than gender role identity. Most participants endorsed Internalization (RIAS) and Femininity (PAQ) attitudes. Implications for voice representations theory and mental health and academic professionals are presented.