Re-Complicating Intersectionality Considering Differences in Language and Personality Type When Considering Strategies for African American Women's Career Development

Re-Complicating Intersectionality Considering Differences in Language and Personality Type When Considering Strategies for African American Women's Career Development

Chelesea Lewellen (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA), Jeremy W. Bohonos (SUNY Buffalo State College, USA), Eboni W. Henderson (SUNY Buffalo State College, USA) and Gliset Colón (SUNY Buffalo State College, USA)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4745-8.ch006
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The purpose of this chapter is to use mini case studies as a method to explore how diversity in race and gender can affect the work-lives and career trajectories of African American women, and to suggest individual and organizational strategies to facilitate career growth of individuals whose identities intersect with multiple forms of diversity. This chapter will begin with a discussion of Black feminist thought and then proceed to discussions of research regarding African American women in the American workforce, personality type differences and linguistic diversity, and then proceed to a mini case study-based discussion of how these various forms of difference can dynamically interact to form highly nuanced sets of obstacles for African America women and other protected class categories whose identities intersect with one or more intersectional identities. Finally, the authors conclude with a discussion of coping and resistance strategies to improve the career trajectories of African American women.
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The Human Resource Development literature has seen increasing attention paid to how race and gender affect career trajectories and experiences with leadership (Beckwith et al., 2016; Byrd, 2009, 2014; Hughes, 2014). The discipline also has bodies of literature around how differences in personality types and linguistic diversity affect how employees relate to their organizations (Afshan et al., 2015; Dozier, 2017; Du Bois, 2013; McLaughlin et al., 2012; Turban et al., 2017). As of March 2015, there were only four African American males and one African American female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. As of 2018, there are 24 women total and only 3 African American CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. All current Fortune 500 African American CEOs are men and the first and last Fortune 500 African American CEO was Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox, who stepped down in early 2017. Leadership characteristics that are traditionally deemed admirable are often viewed as undesirable in women, especially women of color and particularly African American women (Davis & Maldonado, 2015). These biases position African American women negatively and ultimately affect their social position in the workplace by preventing them from being considered for leadership roles. Similarly, African American women and women of color who are linguistically diverse or who have introverted work styles are at a disadvantage in American workplaces which frequently stigmatize diversity in all of these areas.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intersectionality: As defined by Patricia Hill Collins and later expanded by Kimberlé Crenshaw describes the simultaneous identity experience between co-existing identities. Identities can be dynamic and include race, gender, sex, age, ability, etc.

African American Woman: Is an American female who self-identifies as Black, whose national origin of birth is the United States of America and ancestors were subjugated and victims of the American slave trade. Although frequently conflated with Black female, there is an important distinction between Black Women and African American Women. Though both groups experience similar or the same aggressions, Black Women may hail from all across the globe. African American Women, the focus of this research are defined as Black women whose current treatment is due to the history of slavery and the view and treatment of African-American women.

Women of Color: Nonwhite women whose ethnic identities intersect with one of more nonwhite ethnic group. Any female person who is not considered to be white.

Difference: Can earmark individuals based on realized or perceived deviations from one another or between groups. The deviations can be used to contrast with an acceptable “norm” or conformity. The dissimilarity can be used as a tool that subsequently isolates and “others” people who embody the divergence. This isolation can be used to discriminate or persecute.

Systemic Racism: Based on the history of slavery and overall treatment of African- Americans in America, African-American women still struggle with the impact of stereotypes and its influence on how they are perceived ( Beckwith, Carter & Peters, 2016 ).

Oppression: Disproportionally and irrationally targets a group or groups in an effort to exclude or persecute. Oppression is a systemic and prolonged suppressive practices that abuse mistreat and exploit target populations.

Linguistic Diversity: The ability to speak in more than one language or style.

Cultural Competency: Is the ability of an individual to effectively interact with people of different cultures in a meaningful, knowledgeable, respectful and positive manner. It is the ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures.

Black Women: A general and worldwide reference with various local meanings generally used to describe all women whose ancestors are African and from the African diaspora. It is a multifaceted term often used interchangeably with the term “African America women”. Although African American women are Black women, there is an important distinction. See African America women.

Privilege: Unfairly elevates a person(s) based on historic, pervasive and systemic entitlement that unfairly grants benefits, access, and rewards to a group and denies those same opportunities to those who are not members of the preferred population. Privilege unfairly rewards some and penalizes others.

Introvert: Individuals who are energized by solitary activities and reflective inner thought. A person who turns inward to process thoughts and draw energy and needs solitude for generating ideas, reflecting, and problem solving.

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