Prejudice Against African American Women In The Work Place

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Prejudice against African American Women in the Work Place

Prejudice against African American Women in the Work Place


Background of the Study

Many ethnic minorities experience racial discrimination on a regular basis. African Americans women are one such minority for which racial discrimination is a relatively common experience. For African Americans women racial discrimination is experienced in a variety of areas in their lives such as auto sales, housing, and frequently in unfair treatment at the workplace. Recent lawsuits involving racial discrimination by American corporations have resulted in millions of dollars in awards to minority employees. For example Winn-Dixie Stores paid 33 million dollars in damages to settle racial discrimination complaints, Texaco another 176.1 million and Coca-Cola 192.5 million. This is just a sampling of the many American companies made to pay damages for racial discrimination at the workplace. While these seemingly attractive awards offer some monetary compensation to those minority employees, they may do little to compensate for the stress and related emotional effects that discrimination has been shown to have on psychological well being. Some of the emotional effects of discrimination have been identified in the work of Peterson, Maier, and Seligmen (1993), who found that experiences of racial discrimination have resulted in a variety of negative consequences for minorities. They maintain that the detrimental effects of racial discrimination on an individual's mental health are evident in feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and under more chronic conditions; it can lead to frustration, depression, resentment, distrust, and even paranoia (Armstead, 2009). Along with evidence of the contributory effects of racial discrimination on emotional well being, researchers have also identified a number of physiological responses to stress with most involving the endocrine, immune, and cardiovascular system.

Research Question

Do African-American women face prejudice in their workplace?

What are the psychological effects of prejudice against African-American women?

Literature Review

Kamenou (20008) argues for a more holistic and broad-based approach to understanding the linkages among work, life, and family within the context of work-life balance and ethnic minority women's life experiences. While her work focused on ethnic minorities and not African American women specifically, it provided a context within which to understand “different forms of life which may fall out of the standard white western model” (p. 99). Other research explored the pressure on minority women to balance commitments to their families, culture, and religion. With rare exceptions, the aforementioned categories are intertwined with and dominate the life component of work-life for women of color, creating bicultural stress. This term, coined by Thomas and Peveler (1990), is defined as “the set of emotional and physical upheavals produced by a bicultural existence” (p. 135). It explains why in many instances, myriad levels of expectation abound at work and home. At work, they feel the responsibility to fit in to be accepted and have opportunities for career advancement. At home and within their communities, they may at times, be subjected to criticism from those who feel they are denying their culture by assimilating and adapting to westernized cultural ...
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