Dealing with “Dilemmas of Difference” in the Workplace

40 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2021

See all articles by Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Rangita de Silva de Alwis

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Sarah Heberlig

University of Pennsylvania Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct

Lindsay Holcomb

University of Pennsylvania Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

Over the course of six months, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s class “Women, Law, and Leadership” interviewed 55 women between the ages of 25 and 85, all leaders in their respective fields. Nearly half of the women interviewed were women of color, and 10 of the women lived and worked in countries other than the U.S., spanning across Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Threading together the common themes touched upon in these conversations, we gleaned a number of novel insights, distinguishing the leadership trajectories pursued by women who have risen to the heights of their professions. Through thousands of hours of conversation with some of the world’s most influential and powerful women, this study identifies the primary barriers and biases faced by women of diverse backgrounds in the workplace, as well as the strategies and philosophies they adopted in order to overcome these impediments. While there is much commonality among the women’s experiences, women of color often face more pervasive and subtle barriers than their white counterparts. Their leadership strategies on how to address these insidious challenges, however, are rarely recorded. In this article, we give voice to these experiences.

Keywords: Women & leadership, sex/gender discrimination in employment, promotion, inequality, empirical cross-cultural studies, comparative law & politics, race, intersectionality

Suggested Citation

de Silva, Rangita and Heberlig, Sarah and Holcomb, Lindsay, Dealing with “Dilemmas of Difference” in the Workplace (2020). Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, Vol. 27, No. 193, 2020, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 21-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3764898

Rangita De Silva (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Sarah Heberlig

University of Pennsylvania Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Lindsay Holcomb

University of Pennsylvania Law School - Student/Alumni/Adjunct ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

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