2 answers

What is the hardest part about being an African American woman in a white, male-dominated field?

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I am an a African American woman who interested in going into the journalism profession.

#journalism #magazines #online-journalism #broadcast-journalism

2 answers

Paul’s Answer

Updated

While I am not a woman, I am African American and in a male dominated field (financial services). So while my experience will not be exactly the same as yours or other black women, there are similarities.

In my opinion, the HARDEST part will be having to work harder than everyone else just to prove that you belong which isn't necessary for non-minorities or men in general. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • As a female, you may experience sexism as most men have yet to treat women as equals in the workplace. Research income inequality for more on that.
  • As a minority, people may question your credentials especially if you graduated from a school not well known to a majority of your co-workers. For example, I graduated from Morgan State University which is a HBCU and I had to constantly explain to people where it was. In addition, if they have never heard of the school, they may question its academic quality (ex. rankings).

Besides having to prove yourself, you will have to make an effort to not portray negative stereotypes such as "the angry black woman". Again, non-minorities don't have to deal with this. If a man gets angry at work and starts to raise his voice he's viewed as passionate about the job being done right. If you do it, you're being too emotional or too aggressive because you're black. In addition, there will always be strange looks or questions if you change your hair frequently. For example, you leave work on Friday with short hair but show up to work on Monday with braids.

Last, given the political climate we are currently in, you never know who wants to "Make America Great Again" until someone opens up their mouth and makes a comment about something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Now it is usually frowned upon to discuss politics at work, but it does happen so you will need thick skin to walk away and not react.

Hope this was helpful.


Alexandra’s Answer

Updated

I am not an African American but for me as a woman the hardest part has been to find co-workers, whether men or women, who are empathetic and culturally aware and who are willing to to try to understand my background and my challenges as a woman.