Thursday Main Stage with Chitra Aiyar

Learning Opportunities Related to Cultivating Space for Marginalized Populations


For Women and Minorities to Get Ahead, Managers Must Assign Work Fairly by Joan C. Williams and Marina Multhaup.

Points to Highlight  

  • Our own research focused on engineering and law. We developed a tool, called the Workplace Experiences Survey, that tests for racial and gender bias in business systems, such as assignments. In a national study, our Center for WorkLife Lawand the Society of Women Engineers gave an early version of the survey to over 3,000 engineers. It found that women were 29% more likely than white men to report doing more office housework than their colleagues.”

  • “The gaps with glamour work, too, are large. Female engineers of color were 35% less likely than white men to report having equal access to desirable assignments; white women were 20% less likely. For lawyers, the findings were remarkably similar: Women of color were almost 30% less likely than white men to say they had equal opportunity to high-quality assignments, and white women were 18% less likely.”

  • “Moreover, because of these stereotypes, women and people of color are under social pressuresto volunteer for office housework activities. They also risk pushback if they don’t take on these tasks (“She’s just not a team player” or “She thinks highly of herself, doesn’t she?”). And women are more likely to be assigned office housework because assigners tend to believe that women will accept the task.”

  • “Next, hold everyone accountable for the tasks they’ve been assigned — even small ones. If there’s someone on your team who never gets asked to do mundane tasks because he’s “just not a details guy,” that’s a performance problem. It should be addressed like any other performance issue.”


Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People by Kelsey Blackwell.

Points to Highlight

  • “People of color need their own spaces. Black people need their own spaces. We need places in which we can gather and be free from the mainstream stereotypes and marginalization that permeate every other societal space we occupy. We need spaces where we can be our authentic selves without white people’s judgment and insecurity muzzling that expression. We need spaces where we can simply be—where we can get off the treadmill of making white people comfortable and finally realize just how tired we are.”

  • “Even if white people can’t access an embodied understanding of why PoC spaces are needed, they can still cultivate genuine compassion for our experience of needing them, and they can trust our voices enough to support these spaces. If the presence of spaces for people of color engenders discomfort, insecurity, or anger, I hope those emotions will be seen as an opportunity to look deeper within oneself to ask why.”

  • “Imagine that discrimination is like plaque that covered your being at birth—in its stickiness are challenges to your worth, intelligence, and humanity. Over time, as you try to make your way through the school system, find a job, and look for a partner, it gets thicker and stickier. An important way to begin chipping away at this buildup is to be in a space where we can, temporarily, leave that sticky inheritance at the door. This is the point of PoC spaces.”



Take the Challenge

Watch this video featuring finance executive Mellody Hobson as she makes the case that speaking openly about race — and particularly about diversity in hiring — makes for better businesses and a better society.

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