Defining intersectionality

Intersectionality is a term coined by Legal and critical race scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw, that describes how social identities - gender, race, education, class, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc - overlap or intersect. For example, while white women and black women may both be subject to sexism in the workplace, the intersection of race and gender means this discrimination shows up differently for women of different races, and much more intensely for black women and other women of color.

Another way to put this is that a Latinx woman doesn't sometimes get treated like a woman in some situations and Latinx in others – she's always treated like a Latinx woman.

Intersectionality and male allyship programs

Without conscious intention, most male allyship efforts end up defaulting to white feminism – which means that when the word "women" is used it's often implicitly referring only to "white women". Male allyship programs are no exception, even if many of the members and leadership are women of color. In the corporate world, it always takes conscious intention to include women of color speakers, experiences, articles, panelists, and facilitators in gender equity events. This means planning takes a bit more time, but if you do it from the start, it isn't that much more work. Some ways to take a new direction:

Host events in partnership with different affinity groups at your company (race, sexual orientation, nationality)

  • Seek out speakers with different sexual orientations, nationalities, abilities, etc.
  • Share articles by authors with different sexual orientations, nationalities, abilities, etc.
  • Only have multiracial panels
  • Make women of color the default as you send communications internally and externally