chapter  3
Interrogating inequalities perpetuated in a feminized field: using Critical Race Theory and the intersectionality lens to render visible that which should not be disaggregated
Pages 20

This chapter is about the ways in which advantage is maximized and privilege is resisted and negotiated in the feminized field of public relations. The intent is to apply Critical Race theory (CRT) and intersectionality to expose the effects of workplace inequalities on career growth in the United States and then to present accounts of how such outcomes are navigated, according to lived experiences drawn from in-depth interviews and focus group sessions with over 150 female and male African-American, AsianAmerican, Caucasian/white, and Latina/o practitioners of various ages over the past decade (2001-11). The study probes ways that privilege and disadvantage are reinforced according to social identity dimensions. These are salient phenomena given that the public relations field now has a majority of Caucasian/white women at mid-and lower levels, but with most senior roles held by older Caucasian/white men. Propositions are offered for new directions in public relations to explain, predict, and eradicate underlying forces that promote career inequalities linked to social identity intersectionalities. Broad social problems steeped in intolerance and disrespect have

implications for the career growth of women and men of various ages and ethnicities who practice public relations. Past efforts to understand organizational inequalities have failed to embrace fully the richness of each individual’s unique identity, resulting in uninspired policies. Various metaphors qualify this shortcoming, including ‘single-axis analysis’ and ‘silo-oriented thinking’ (African American Policy Forum n.d.: 2). It is well established that women of color encounter sexism in a context of racism (Bell and Nkomo 2001), with similar experiences among various groups. Pompper (2005) found that decades of shortsighted reductionist thinking produced research negatively framing ‘difference’ in public relations in terms of black/white, violence, and conflict. This chapter is a clarion call for embraced social identity intersectionalities, for the purpose of exposing power dynamics and inspiring meaningful interventions for real change.