WorkMinded Podcast: Me, Myself, & I - Intersectionality

WorkMinded Podcast: Me, Myself, & I - Intersectionality

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Hey everyone, and welcome to WorkMinded. Thank you for joining us for this session on Intersectionality!

Go ahead and take some time to get settled. Find a place where you feel safe, comfortable, and can avoid distractions for the next 10 minutes. While you create a little distance between you and what’s going on in your day, we’ll talk about Intersectionality, and how you can influence the sense of identity that you bring to your work.


Intersectionality has its roots in social justice, when Kimberle Crenshaw, an activist and legal scholar, began exploring the social implications of race and gender oppressions experienced by African-American women. Crenshaw explains that she used “the term ‘Intersectionality’ to deal with the fact that many social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.” 1

She uses the analogy of a road and an intersection. 2 Each road to the intersection represents structural identity factors, such as race and gender. The traffic in the roads represents political factors like social policies and practices. If you’re standing in the intersection of these roads and their traffic, you’re experiencing the compounded impact of those structural and political factors. Consider all the roads or identities that converge at your own “intersection,” and how your experiences are shaped by the demographics and politics affiliated with each of these layers.

Throughout its social justice history, Intersectionality has come to consider all types of identities, including race, class, gender, disability, sexuality, and more.3 When these identities intersect, the overlap can create differences in people’s experiences within society.4  At its core, Intersectionality is about unique personal and social identity configurations.5 It is also the acknowledgement that for groups of people with a common identity, there are differences within that group6 because of the unique combinations of identity layers experienced by every individual.

The lens of Intersectionality can be used to explore a wide variety of social interactions and complex social hierarchies.7  While some sources contend that the proliferation of the term is taking it toward buzzword territory,8 bringing Intersectionality into our mainstream awareness is an critical aspect for its acceptance and influence.9 It is important to balance the heritage of the concept with its application to new situations and contexts, and their potential to evolve organizational thinking. So maybe just as important as how Intersectionality is defined, is exploring what Intersectionality can be mobilized to do, and considering how to apply it to previously unexplored situations.10

Today’s mindfulness session will look specifically at Intersectionality in the context of work. In Western cultures especially, we tend to tie our work with our identity. We often think of our personal selves and our work selves, and many of us struggle for our entire careers to bring those into alignment. But at any given moment, we are all comprised of so many layers of identity. And our work selves are just a few of those layers.

Think back to the beginning of the episode, to all the roads that converge at your own personal intersection. You might consider your race, your gender, or other demographic information. You might consider your job title, organizational rank, or other work aspects. You might also consider pieces of your identity that are not visible or immediately apparent. Now picture of how complex your intersection looks when you put these all together! Each layer interacts with and influences the others. At work, you might use the patience you learned as a parent to deal with difficult coworkers. At home, you might use the time management skills you developed as a team leader to make room for a hobby.

It’s important to consider a holistic view of your full identity. Rather than thinking of each of your identity layers as a separate part of yourself, think of each one as a tool available to you. We all have the power to utilize any of the skills, experiences, and resources, from any of our layers, in any given situation. It’s important to “ground yourself” in the layer that will best serve you in the moment. The focus of today’s mindfulness session will be developing an awareness and understanding of which layers of your identity can be most helpful for achieving a particular goal.

You can find show notes for this episode on our website at, and of course we would always love to hear from you, so we hope you’ll connect with us. And now let’s get started with today’s mindfulness session!


1, 2 Crenshaw, K. (2016). The urgency of intersectionality. Retrieved from

4, 5 Intersectionality and Identity Development: How Do We Conceptualize and Research Identity Intersectionalities in Youth Meaningfully? (n.d.). Retrieved from

8, 9 Hopkins, P. (2017). Social geography I: Intersectionality. In Progress in Human Geography. Retrieved from

10 Carbado, D. W., Crenshaw, K. W., Mays, V. M., & Tomlinson, B. (2013). INTERSECTIONALITY: Mapping the Movements of a Theory. Du Bois review : social science research on race, 10(2), 303–312. doi:10.1017/S1742058X13000349