The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace


Via The New York Times

The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace


Photo by Andrea Levy

The concept of intersectionality — referring to the complex and cumulative way different forms of discrimination like racism, sexism and classism overlap and affect people — seems have popped up relatively recently.

But as Brittany Packnett, an educator, activist and writer who is black, told an audience at the New Rules Summit hosted by The New York Times, it was by no means a new idea — it has been voiced in different ways for many decades by those living on the margins of mainstream America.

Living At The IntersectionCredit…CreditVideo by The New York Times Conferences

“It’s not merely that some days I experience racism and some days I experience sexism,” she said. “Rather it is that oppression shows up differently for me than it does for black men and white women.”

More stories from The New Rules Summit Special Report.

The term “intersectionality” was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles, almost 30 years ago, although it never had the prominence — at least in some circles — it has now.

“I think about this all the time,” said Stacy Brown-Philpot, the chief executive of TaskRabbit. “When I get on stage, I’m a black woman. And I’m a black C.E.O. Being a C.E.O. in general can be lonely sometimes. As one of the few black female C.E.O.s, the loneliness builds.”

study by Catalyst, a nonprofit consulting and research organization on women in business, looked at what it called the emotional tax women and men of color face in the workplace.

“It’s a feeling of having to protect against bias or unfair treatment — of having to be on guard,” said Dnika J. Travis, vice president of research for Catalyst.

The survey of almost 1,600 participants in a variety of corporate and noncorporate settings included those who identified as Asian, African-American, Latino or a combination of any of those, she said.

Via The New York Times