Intersectional Identities: Investigating how Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Gender Jointly Shape Childhood Achievement and Family Contexts
Daphne Henry

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pittsburgh

Primary Discipline

The Black-White educational opportunity gap contributes to intergenerational racial inequality in well-being. Although inequalities in family socioeconomic status (SES) help foment educational disparities, multiple studies indicate that the academic returns to SES differ for Black and White children, with Black children deriving smaller achievement gains from higher SES. Recent research also suggests that the academic returns to SES differ by gender, and growing evidence shows Black girls outpace Black boys in scholastic achievement. Yet, the reasons why the educational returns to SES differ by race are not well understood, and it remains unclear whether this pattern of diminished returns operates similarly for Black girls and boys. This project has three main goals. Using nationally-representative, longitudinal panel data, it 1) Investigates how race and multiple SES dimensions (i.e., parental education level, family income, and family wealth) intersect to shape academic development, 2) Tests whether multiple contextual pathways (e.g., parenting practices and parental psychological functioning) help explain diminished academic returns for Black children, and 3) Explores whether this pattern of differential returns and the pathways underlying it differ by gender. This work will enhance understanding of the intersectional associations between race, family SES, gender, and academic development, explore why family SES does not translate into similar achievement patterns for Black and White children, and examine how contextual sources of risk and resilience may vary among Black boys and girls.
About Daphne Henry
Daphne A. Henry is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology and Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Drawing from multidisciplinary scholarship, her research investigates how socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity intersect to shape children?s academic development and developmental contexts, including their home, school, and neighborhood environments. She employs a diverse methodological tool-kit, including large-scale longitudinal data analysis and mixed-methods approaches, to delineate the processes linking race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status to children?s academic functioning and to uncover how complex patterns of family, community, and societal inequality influence children?s early development and long-term well-being. Dr. Henry earned a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and a B.A. in history at the University of Pittsburgh. She has received research support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the American Psychological Foundation, and her scholarship has been published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and American Psychologist, among other outlets.

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