Intersectionality

Intersectionality was first used by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University almost 30 years ago. Intersectionality is the theory that refers to the complex and cumulative way different forms of discrimination like racism, sexism and classism overlap and affect people (The Effect of Intersectionality in the Workplace, retrieved September 28, from https://nyti.ms/2QpDEGW). It contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual (Intersectionality retrieved September 28, from https://bit.ly/2oicDMC). Intersectionality recognizes that identity markers (e.g. “female” and “black”) do not exist independently of each other, and that each informs the others, often creating a complex convergence of oppression (What is intersectionality, and what does it have to do with me? retrieved September 28, from https://bit.ly/2RgAIgl). These systematic discriminations can have disruptive influence on individuals. They can affect access to opportunities.

There might be many ways to practice intersectionality at work, however, I have mentioned few of them below:

  1. First of all, realizing and understanding these systematic barriers can help to have a better approach towards solving these issues. We should also understand how all groups and communities are affected by different discriminations.
  2. Educating others and offering trainings about different discriminations and explaining how these discriminations can affect individuals.
  3. Providing the opportunity to talk about problems while listening and supporting the voice of individuals impacted by these issues. On the other hand, incorporating different voices and perspectives while addressing an issue.
  4. Including different employees from different groups in different levels to represent all.
  5. Increasing collaboration with different groups and communities to again represent all groups.
  6. Providing equal resources for all individuals without considering their identities and backgrounds.
  7. Understanding and considering health issues cause by these discriminations and offering solutions for them.
  8. Integrating intersectional policies so that people who don’t agree will be forced to obey the policy, thus, this will become a culture after a while.
  9. Considering unique challenges of different groups.
  10. Reading a learning from different experiences and solutions provided by others.

Considering all the factors mentioned above, it is unavoidable that the mentioned factors will influence productivity of individuals while providing an appreciable and equal environment for people from different groups. From a different perspective, it will promote the environment since different people can have dissimilar skills that can benefit the work. Additionally, understanding a few aspects of the challenges faced by individuals can help us to find out about other possible challenges and provide a long-term plan to reduce these challenges in the future.

About mensafi

Mahnaz is a Ph.D. student in Environmental Design and Planning at Virginia Tech. She holds two master’s degree, M.S. in Environmental Design from Texas Tech University and M.A in Architecture from University of Tehran (Iran). Currently, she is both research and teaching assistant at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include BIM, facility management, construction safety and healthcare design.
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