Posted by: kaylawalling | March 31, 2016


Intersectionality is the concept that oppressive institutions such as racims, sexism, homophobia, and many others are entwined.

As we talk about women in leadership, I feel it is important to address women of color in leadership roles. TIME put out a list of the 25 most powerful women of the last century and the list is very white. Of the 25, only 5 would be considered minorities in the United States. Just 3 women on the list are black despite the Center for Talent Innovation’s research that suggests black women are more ambitious than their white counterparts (Fortune). I think a bit of the material we read is focused more on white women, as we pointed out with the opting out readings. We tend to stray away from other women who are being even more oppressed. While woman as a whole face challenges, black women (and other women of color) face even more obstacles due to racism, negative stereotypes (such as the Mad Black Woman), and possibly even classism which keep them out of executive and top management positions. There is one black woman with a CEO position in the Fortune 500- Ursula Burns of Xerox.

I’m beginning to wonder if when we talk about progress for women in leadership, we only mean white women. Thoughts?


  1. In one of my diversity classes for social work, we talked about how intersectionality can affect members of a group, and I think you may be correct to say that there different stereotypes and biases associated with women of color versus white women. I think as you pile on more and more “minority” characteristics, you will have more obstacles to face. This may explain why of the small number of women there are in top CEO positions, there are an even smaller number of women of color in those positions. The different demographics each contribute a piece of privilege whether we like to acknowledge it or not, and I believe that has been a common thread that we are seeing with the articles about top women opting out.

  2. This is a very interesting point we have touched the surface on, but never really looked at the statistics. The question you ask at the end is very intriguing and one that many people would shy away from asking. I myself do not see it that way, but that may be because I am a white female. Many men are ambivalent to the women,s plight because it does not effect them. I may just not see the it for white versus minority women. In my generation I know several strong, smart, and ambitious women of color and I hope that they will one day destroy the statistics and it won’t even be an issue.

  3. I think that CNU should begin a Race and Leadership class. The study and discussion of progress and setbacks of black leaders (male and female) should be a it’s own course in total. I totally agree that “woman as a whole face challenges, black women (and other women of color) face even more obstacles due to racism, negative stereotypes (such as the Mad Black Woman), and possibly even classism which keep them out of executive and top management positions.” It’s so interesting to toy around with the idea of this topic being a course within our leadership minor. We have Cross Cultural Leadership, but that was more of a course exploring the leadership across different cultures and how leadership is best received. I think that exploring race and leadership is fascinating and so incredibly important in our society, especially now, when we are trying our hardest to level the playing field for all. Very interesting post, really got me thinking! Thank you!

  4. I am biased, obviously, but I definitely think that when we talk about women’s progression, we speak mainly of white women’s progression. It was even more interesting to do many readings on women who choose to stay home recently and learning that even this applies a separate stigma to black women versus white women. While white mothers who choose to stay home and take care of their children can often be seen as doing a good thing, unemployed black women are often looked down upon, regardless of their marital status or if they have children or not. I agree with Colette: because there is so much more to race + leadership that meets the eye, having a separate course on that would be so awesome!

  5. This is an interesting perspective that I believe relates well to the issues of privilege that came about when discussing the opting out phenomenon. According to the last census, women are not even a minority population in the US but obviously blacks and other minorities vastly are. So using the idea of intersectionality it wold make sense that our society wants to embrace the progress of white women, because statistically they’re not a minority, but is not ready for the progress of women who by race or sexual orientation are a minority. And more generally, if women are not at a population less than men, why are they so underrepesented in leadership positions?

  6. I think that it is very race stereotyped as well when we discuss anything like this. When we think of leadership, we think of men, particularly white men. When we think of female leadership, we think of white women. In order for us to view women of every color as leaders, there need to be role models. There are significantly more challenges for women of color to face when overcoming the stereotypes but this is a good point to keep in mind. Leader doesn’t mean man and female leader doesn’t mean white. Hopefully, as more women come in to leadership positions, race and gender will both grow in terms of their number of leaders to look up to.

  7. I definitely think this is an interesting topic. Personally, I don’t think the research and all the readings mean to be one-sided on women in leadership roles. I think its truly unfortunate and unfair that there isn’t enough representation, especially since women are already underrepresented in positions. I think what has been said most often about minority representation is the fact that employers would rather hire a minority man to a woman, and then a white woman over a minority woman. Why this occurs I can’t really fathom an idea so I think it’d be a great topic for us to discuss more in depth!

  8. This is a good point to bring up, though I do not entirely agree with he point. I do agree that most of what we have talked about in class, with the exception of Shondra, has been based on the white female upper class point of view. However, when we are talking about women and leadership in general I would argue that women of colored or other minority groups are proving to be leaders more so than white women. Mostly due to situational and cultural context. I am not talking about CEO’s or managers, I am talking about women who are out their fighting for people’s freedoms and liberties in other countries. Abbey and I are doing are project on Hawa Adbi, an African American leader who is making ground breaking progress in her fight with her followers. And there are several others that seem to be overlooked by the masses. I think that one suggestion I would have for this class in the future is to not forget the”little guys.” Remember that not all leaders are flashy and famous, but instead most of the world’s greatest and most influential leaders are those people that no one know about, fighting from the shadows!

  9. This is a really interesting topic and I totally agree that we should look more into this as a leadership minor. We talk so often in SO MANY leadership classes about leaders who are white men, so what kind of a message does that send us as leadership students?
    I think the stereotypes revolving around minority women is incredibly essential to begin to better understand and uncover. I am sure that there are thousands of women who have been discouraged, turned down for jobs, and discriminated against due to their race, and we really haven’t talked too much about that.
    With the changing times and the growing diversity of the US, we need to get on top of this. What is going on with race AND leadership AND gender … and why?

  10. Okay, so I am a history geek and I will be the first one to point out the waves and/or cycles of history. I mean just today in class Travis was talking about generational theory and I was thinking about how the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory applies to this class. But that is for another day because what I did want to talk about is how our society has worked. If you look back to the original women’s rights movement back when Susan B Anthony was fighting for women’s suffrage, the women began talking about abolition and the freeing of all the slaves. These women put their call on hold to protest the racism and treatment of blacks, but why? Well, as soon as the slaves got their freedom, the women were able to say, “But we must be better than these beasts?” And this is just one example…the Vietnam War kicked up feminist and environmentalist movements. If you look at history, these various minority and special-interest movements play off of each other and as history continues they just feed off of each and use each other to grow support. There are even some examples of leaders of one movement simply moving on to the next one. Do I think we talk about mostly white leaders? Yeah, but that is because there have been a whole lot more of those then there have been black leaders. Is it a problem? I don’t know, because I think we have seen some cases of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation, but I am not sure we could make this discussion any more colored. I just don’t think there are a lot of resources out there yet. And that is your history lesson for the day.

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