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Read the Directions Carefully

“The real root of misogynoir is how people perceive and treat Black women and understand them to be worthy of respect and care,” Bailey said. “Changes have to happen at the structural level of our society, not just the individual behaviors.” - Moya Bailey

There are two ways to put together a dresser from IKEA or to build a race car from a LEGO set. You can either read the directions or not. I have learned from experience that you get a better end-product when you start with reading the directions. Not just a cursory glance but a thorough reading. We failed to do that when we wrote our one pager and that added a significant delay.

Below, I share the part of the instructions for the Racial Equity Grant that we missed. It was right at the top, under the title of the solicitation, under "Important Information". I am also sharing some paragraphs from our first version and our second version. Then I ask which of them do you think follows the directions.


  • All proposals should conceptualize systemic racism within the context of their proposal and describe how the proposed work will advance scholarship of racial equity and address systemic racism.

  • All proposals should have a knowledge generation component.

  • All proposals should be led by or in authentic partnership with those who experience inequities caused by systemic racism.

  • All proposals should center the voices, knowledge, and experiences of those who experience inequities caused by systemic racism.

The highlighted sentence is THE most important part of what is important and it reiterated in what the reviewers will look for under "Intellectual Merit".

From the Intellectual Merit:

  • How does the proposal conceptualize systemic racism with respect to the proposal topic or context? In what ways will the proposed work advance scholarship of racial equity and address systemic racism?

  • In what ways are the voices, knowledge, and experiences of those who experience inequities caused by systemic racism are at the center of the project?

  • How is the project led by or in authentic partnership individuals and communities who experience inequities caused by systemic racism?

This was our first try:

Research has shown that burnout is a significant issue for many individuals working in academia, and for women of color the effects are significant. For example, a study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that Black women in academic positions reported higher levels of job-related stress and burnout than their white counterparts . The study also found that Black women were less likely to receive support from colleagues and supervisors, and unsurprisingly, were more likely to experience discrimination and micro-aggressions in the workplace.

Compounding the issue of burnout in the academy for women of color is the uncompensated and often unacknowledged emotional labor they expend in supporting their students. Over fifty years of evidence points to the critical role of student-faculty interactions in enhancing learning, critical thinking, career aspirations, and self-confidence . Women, as a group are more likely to engage in more service activities than men with these activities considered less valuable in terms of contributing to promotion. However, the problem is compounded for racial/ethnic minority women who are considered “double disadvantaged”

Statistics on the wage and promotion gap experienced by women in academia don’t always elucidate the additional burden of navigating multiple intersectional marginalized identities. Yet, even within the field of Psychology, where we should know better, the lip service given to valuing inclusion and equity stands in stark contrast to the persistence of differences in career advancement and financial compensation for women, especially those who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) or gender-minority. Calls for organizational changes in policy and practices have not been totally ineffective….

This is our new version:

An emerging body of research suggests that African American women, belonging to multiple exclusionary social categories, may be subjected to a combination of biases. The term “double minority” has been used to describe this experience as viewed within systems of oppression and privilege. From a theoretical perspective, “double minority” is seen as one aspect of Intersectionality. Black Feminism is generally recognized as the first to give theoretical consideration to the intersection of gender, race, class, sexuality and other social classifications. Black Feminism contributed to Intersectional analysis by 1) centering the perspectives and acknowledging the experiences of Black women; 2) countering the assumption of universality as an aspect of womanhood and 3) applying intersectionality as a tool for social activism.

However, there is a growing concern that Intersectionality may be limited in its capacity to serve as a foundational theory leading to social change due to several reasons, including conceptual ambiguity and a lack of clear methodological guidelines. Intersectionality has been criticized for its conceptual ambiguity because targeted concepts are difficult to operationalize. Therefore, the potential for advancing research and influencing policy is restricted due to inconsistent and superficial application of the concepts. While Intersectionality offers a conceptual framework, it does not provide detailed guidelines for research design, data collection, or analysis. This lack of methodological consistency has led to criticism because the methodological variations are understood and operationalized in different ways depending on the research context.

In the research proposed here, Black Feminism will be used as an area of focus for Intersectionality research using a Critical Realist Positional Approach. The purpose of this study will be to create an intervention program that will increase and enhance the level of scholarly products by African American female faculty members teaching at minority serving institutions. Additionally, the study aims to produce a community of practice in which participants identify as potential leaders and change agents. The study, therefore, operationalizes an anti-misogynoir framework for a series of professional development activities aimed at STEM teaching and research faculty. It is believed that the inclusion of this framework will advance the scholarship of both gender and racial equity in STEM and by doing so contribute to actualizing gender and racial equity in the Academy.

Can you tell a difference?

My thanks to my collaborators, Gail and Avis, who even when it is hard to do, or when they can't do it, still believe it is better to write every day!

It's summer- Please write!

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