Common Obstacles Black Women Go Through (And How to Get Through Them)

Common Obstacles Black Women Go Through (And How to Get Through Them)

By: Tori Glaude

Common. We used the term "common" as a word that describes something majority of us go through. Not all of us black women were fortunate to bypass several obstacles put in the way to separate us and the “good jobs” or the “big money”.

We’ll go over some obstacles that us women go through in the workplace both before and after getting hired.

Let’s get this one out of the way first: Sexual Harassment. This is important to mention because it's so real. Being such a taboo subject, with movements like #metoo and #timesup, the inappropriate behavior is finally getting the acknowledgment it deserves. There is no reason a woman should be subjected to a man in power to get or keep a job. The key to get through this is attacking it early. In the first instance where comments or actions are inappropriate, be clear about your intentions in the situation and leave it as soon as possible. It is also important to involve someone else. Someone you can confide in. It’s necessary not to bottle those emotions up because even the thought of something like this happening can have negative influences on your future encounters with men and show up in other relationships. Sexual harassment is a violation of a federal law, and companies usually have a policy that will tell you what is considered sexual harassment and how to address it. More information about the law and your options can easily be found through your favorite search engine! Organizations like The American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are great places to start.

Race and Gender representation.

Can we just be real? When you get a new job the first thing you look for is somebody black. Its natural, don’t be embarrassed and don’t feel racist, its normal. When there are no blacks or very few, and they aren’t women, it is easy to feel like you don’t belong. My solution to this issue is to take this opportunity to change the perception or stereotype that the people around you have of black women. Be open to explore new cultures and new experiences while introducing them to ours. It’s nothing wrong with having work friends. New interactions give us a chance to learn and grow. In the meantime, in between time, make sure to regularly have check-ins with your homegirls to release some of that black girl magic that only they can understand. Balance is important to survive here.

Equal Pay

Can you believe that we are still facing situations where a man, still gets paid more than a woman, because he is a man? I think this issue is less about us women wanting to make as much as men, and more about us women wanting to get paid what we are worth. Before accepting an offer, be sure to do research on how much a person with your credentials and your experience is worth when it comes to salary. Learn the art of negotiation if you have that option and always aim high!

The Glass Ceiling

The last thing I think is worth mentioning is the glass ceiling. We know that this represents the invisible barrier between someone and their potential. This is important to understand because it's easy to not recognize when someone stunts your growth because you are a woman, or because you are so good at your current job. Always go for what you want. Be clear in the beginning about the importance of growth for you. Work hard and show how dedicated you are to making a difference to the company. Don’t be afraid to ask about open positions that you feel eligible for and apply every time.

As black women, a lot of things count against us as far as social stereotypes are concerned. For those of us who choose to take a position in the corporate world, let us be and set new examples for the black women. It's rare to see a black woman in a corporate environment dominating, but we can change that. Obstacles are there to help us build strength and grow a deeper appreciation for whatever the goal is. Don’t lose faith because the odds are against you. Let’s continue to pave ways for the women before us.