Updated: Apr 24, 2021
Women can possess multiple stigmatized identities (i.e., gender and race) and often need to respond to multiple forms of prejudice in the workplace.
Awareness of intersectionality can be a coping mechanism for women, especially women of color (WOC) to combat prejudice workplace behaviors and their impact on women’s health and well-being. Prejudice more often than not is expressed through subtle acts of exclusion and can be challenging for women, especially WOC to detect. As a result, WOC experience chronic uncertainty about others’ motives during interactions.
The uncertainty of not knowing whether others are acting in prejudiced or genuine ways is distressing and can have a deleterious impact over WOC’s psychological wellbeing and mental health (i.e. psychological distress, chronic nutritional, emotional and physical stress in health). Furthermore, workplace discrimination is associated with poor work outcomes because it impedes women’s perceptions of fit with and support from their organizations. In this instance, the amplified burden for WOC to navigate this ambiguous landscape is distinct and apart from white women or male counterparts.
Womanist thinking combats discrimination as a critical consciousness and resistance of multiple interlocking forms of oppression. Research indicated that Womanist attitudes served as a type of barrier against discriminatory acts. Specifically, feminist attitudes such as Womanism that acknowledge societal sexism are theorized to help women resist internalizing experiences of prejudice and attributing them to personal failings, thereby buffering against the deleterious psychological outcomes of prejudice and discrimination. Such findings suggest that any efforts to raise WOC critical consciousness should be explicitly intersectional in nature by recognizing that race, class, and gender are markers of power creating intersecting lines or axes used to reinforce power relations and forms of oppression.
The lived experiences, activism, and scholarship of women, especially women of color, is differentiated by the need to design coping strategies that leverage Womanist thinking to resist internalizing experiences of prejudice and attributing them to personal failings.
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