How Organizational Logics, Feelings Rules, and Emotional Labor Impact African American Women Professionals’ Navigation of Workspaces
Green, Venus Mary
Women within professional organizations and occupations have made substantial strides, including gaining increases in income, advancing into higher level positions, and expanding their presence across a diversity of professional occupations (Combs, 2003). Currently, the United States workforce is made up of 49.6% women (U.S Census Bureau, 2011). This same report suggests that in 2010, 2,412,000 black women held only 5 percent of all administrative and managerial posts in professional and related occupations. Despite significant progress in the number of black women professionals in the workforce, they still encounter racial and gender discrimination. By applying Arlie Hoschild’s theories of emotional labor and feeling rules to this understudied population of professionals, I explore the mechanisms through which the women use affective technologies to negotiate and navigate instances of discrimination and climb up the corporate ladder. I also explore how certain emotions are race and gender segregated within workplace settings. Drawing upon interviews with professional black women (n=10), I argue that organizational logics of gender and race within professional workplaces create an unequal distribution of additional labor for black women professionals. I also maintain that black women’s employment of emotional labor can be a form of circumventing this additional labor and can be used as a form of empowerment. This thesis will add to existing scholarship that seeks to understand how unspoken emotional labor expectations might be a factor that contributes to larger macro level economic and social inequalities facing racialized and gendered minorities.