“Bridging the [cis]gender gap in the workplace”: Outdated Cissexist Rhetoric

Dr. A.Breeze Harper (Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen 2016)

I find it interesting that there is a lot of talk about “bridging the gender gap” in terms of problems with diversity in the USAmerican workplace– particularly here in the SF Bay area’s tech region. I have observed that most people who offer services and tools for organizational development/hiring/retention and “diversity”, continue to pose the “Gender gap” question within a cis-sexist framework. What I mean is that the “gender gap” question keeps on focusing on cisgender women and how they compare to cisgender men.

What about people who do not identify as cisgender? In addition, the cisgender assumption is quite one dimensional and assumes factors such as race have nothing to do with the “[cis]-gender gap.” I am bringing this up because I keep on receiving emails or tweet notifications about businesses that create services and tools to “Tackle the gender gap” but are within a white cisgender framing of this “diversity” problem. It’s almost as if most people offering business solutions who are working on the “gender gap” do not have a degree or deep experience in critical race feminism (or similar). Their conceptualization of “Gender gap” is 2nd wave feminist- outdated. Lastly, many show their reports about gender in the workplace by continuing to use “male” and “female” in describing “gender”. Male and female are not “Genders”; they are biological sexes assigned at birth (and even the ‘biological’ is socially constructed)…. Any thoughts on this?


Dr. A. Breeze Harper

Dr. A. Breeze Harper is a senior diversity and inclusion strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions, a seasoned speaker, and author of books and articles related to critical race feminism, intersectional anti-racism, and ethical consumption. As a writer, she is best known as the creator and editor of the groundbreaking anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society (Lantern Books 2010). Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver many keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. In 2015, her lecture circuit focused on the analysis of food and whiteness in her book Scars and on “Gs Up Hoes Down:” Black Masculinity, Veganism, and Ethical Consumption (The Remix)which explored how key Black vegan men use hip-hop methods to create “race-conscious” and decolonizing approaches to vegan philosophies. In 2016, she collaborated with Oakland’s FoodFirst’s Executive Director Dr. Eric Holt-Gimenez to write the backgrounder Dismantling Racism in the Food System, which kicked offFoodFirst’s series on systemic racism within the food system.

Dr. Harper is the founder of the Sistah Vegan Project which has put on several ground-breaking conferences with emphasis on intersection of racialized consciousness, anti-racism, and ethical consumption (i.e., veganism, animal rights, Fair Trade). Last year she organized the highly successful conference The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter which can be downloaded.

Dr. Harper’s most recently published book, Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014) interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. Her current 2016 lecture circuit focuses on excerpts from her latest book in progress, Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches: A Critical Race Feminist’s Journey Through ‘Post-Racial’ Ethical Foodscape which will be released in 2017, along with the second Sistah Vegan project anthology The Praxis of Justice in an Era of Black Lives Matter. In tandem with these book projects, she is well-known for her talks and workshops about “Uprooting White Fragility in the Ethical Foodscape” and “Intersectional Anti-Racism Activism.”

In the spring of 2016, Dr. Harper was nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Humane Party— the only vegan political party in the USA with focus on human and non-human animals.

 

One thought on ““Bridging the [cis]gender gap in the workplace”: Outdated Cissexist Rhetoric

  1. Thanks as always for your allyship to trans and non-binary people. It’s especially difficult in today’s political climate of pushback against “special snowflakes” (i.e., anyone who isn’t cisheteronormative) to gain acceptance and legitimacy for trans and nonbinary people. I find it encouraging that a major magazine, National Geographic, dedicated their entire January 2017 issue to gender, and featured a spread including trans, non-binary, and intersex people on their cover: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/gender-issue-reader-comments-faq/ (I’ve only read a bit of one article so far, but what I’ve seen looks respectful.)

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