Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Public Health

First Advisor

Emily Mann


Black women are disproportionately affected by gendered racial health disparities. Public health research that seeks to unearth the root cause of these gendered racial health disparities is insufficient. More recently, researchers have turned their attention to structural inequities and their influence on the lived experiences of Black women. This study contributes to this body of work by using a theoretical concept derived from intersectionality⎯structural gendered racism⎯to identify key upstream social factors that shape nulliparous, college-educated Black women's lived experience and childbearing desires. Semi-structured, individual interviews were conducted with nulliparous, college-educated Black women (n=30), ages 25 to 35, living in the U.S. South. Participants were recruited for interviews using social media and snowball sampling. The interviews explored participants' lived experiences and childbearing desires and plans in the context of their experiences with education, work, and healthcare. The findings are two-fold as the data was analyzed using grounded theory to answer two separate research questions. Data analysis revealed that college-educated Black women are keenly aware that their experiences with (a) race-based gender stereotypes, (b) economic inequality, and (c) healthcare experiences are the result of being Black and a woman. Additionally, through the lens of structural gendered racism, the findings indicate that college-educated Black women’s childbearing desires are influenced by (a) gendered compulsory contraceptive use, (b) the reproductive imperative, and (c) stigma about unintended pregnancy among Black women. These social influences are shaped by structural inequities that uniquely affect Black women. The study concludes with a call for public health research to attend to structural gendered racism as part of a critical approach to health inequity research.


© 2023, Christiana L. Johnson

Available for download on Wednesday, December 31, 2025

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