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Intersecting Gender and Ethnicity in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of the Literature

By Adedoyin Atewologun

Abstract

Gender and ethnicity represent key bases upon which we differentiate ourselves from others and are also key fracture lines along which inequalities in the workplace manifest. The continued growth in the management literature on organisational gendered processes remains slightly ahead of the management literature investigating race/ethnic differences in organisational outcomes. However, both streams of literature have historically tread separate, parallel paths, resulting in limited understanding of the organisational experiences of people who fall through the ‘fault lines’ of gender and ethnic management research – ethnic minority women. This paper posits that much can be gleaned from adopting an ‘intersectional’ lens for investigating the workplace experiences of employees. It acknowledges that the experiences of ethnic minority women in the workplace, at the intersections of gender and ethnicity, qualitatively differ from those of groups under which they are typically subsumed. The aim of this review was to investigate the extent to which intersectionality has been used to examine organisational experience and to shed light on the ways in which employees’ ‘gender-ethnicity’ is conceptualised at work. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, entailing searching, selecting and evaluating literature on intersecting gender and ethnicity in the workplace. A detailed methodology is presented, with descriptive and thematic findings discussed. Overall, the findings reveal that studies on gender and ethnic intersectionality at work typically examine women’s stories about how race and gender influence their work experiences, often against the backdrop of a particular profession. These studies are likely to be fairly recent (within the last 10 years) and are likely to be conducted within and beyond the typical North American hub of demographic diversity literature. Studies adopt one of three approaches to investigating intersectionality (as a demographic unit, individual perspective or a framework for engaging with the research process) and the role of theory and researcher are important considerations. Additionally, intersectionality is conceptualised in three key ways: as a source of tension, as a way to provide voice, and as contingent on cultural, national and professional context. Implications for further research are considered and limitations of the systematic review discussed

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.lib.cranfield.ac.uk:1826/4672
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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