Intentional Invisibility: Professional Women and the Navigation of Workplace Constraints

Forthcoming 2018, Sociological Perspectives

Posted: 24 May 2018

See all articles by Swethaa Ballakrishnen

Swethaa Ballakrishnen

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi; Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession; American Bar Foundation

Priya Fielding-Singh

Stanford University

Devon Magliozzi

Stanford University

Date Written: May 13, 2018

Abstract

Drawing on an in-depth case study at a large nonprofit organization, we find, in line with previous scholarship, that women professionals continue to face biased expectations at work and at home. We leverage data from in-depth interviews, participant observations and surveys to identify a new strategy that women use to navigate professional constraints created by the second-shift and workplace double binds: “intentional invisibility.” Intentional invisibility refers to a set of risk-averse, conflict-avoidant strategies that women professionals in our study employ to feel authentic, manage competing expectations in the office, and balance work and familial responsibilities. We find women across the organization reporting intentionally remaining behind the scenes in attempts to avoid backlash and maintain a professional status quo. While intentional invisibility allows women to successfully navigate gender unequal professional and personal landscapes, it simultaneously presents an additional challenge to career advancement.

Keywords: Organizations, Occupations and Work, Sex and Gender, Professionals, Qualitative Methods, Professional Women, Gender and Work

Suggested Citation

Ballakrishnen, Swethaa and Fielding-Singh, Priya and Magliozzi, Devon, Intentional Invisibility: Professional Women and the Navigation of Workplace Constraints (May 13, 2018). Forthcoming 2018, Sociological Perspectives. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3177699

Swethaa Ballakrishnen (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Priya Fielding-Singh

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Devon Magliozzi

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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