Women today make up approximately half of the workforce and yet their representation tends to drop off dramatically as one looks up the organizational ladder. This phenomenon is largely thought to be a result of the fact that stereotypes associated with women conflict with those associated with leaders, which are relatively masculine. Subsequently, women tend to face discrimination for engaging in leadership behaviour and are therefore underrepresented in this relatively male-typed field. A corollary to women’s underrepresentation in masculine fields is the paralleled underrepresentation of men in feminine fields, which is thought to be a result of similar mechanisms.

A growing body of work has begun to suggest that these gender-based forces are not felt uniformly across all individuals in the workforce. Recent research suggests that an individual’s race heavily influences how their gender impacts on-the-job experiences; more specifically, Black women seem to face less backlash than White women for gender atypical behaviour. A few different streams of research have begun to investigate why this might be the case. One suggests that stereotypes associated with different racial groups impact the gender stereotypes associated with women of different races to shape their experiences and outcomes. The second suggests that cultural definitions of womanhood cause individuals to often overlook racial minority women when enforcing gender norms. Finally, a third suggests that the racial groups to which both evaluators and target women belong may also influence barriers that women face across races.