Women Bankers in Black and White: Exploring Raced, Classed and Gendered Coalitions
Black women constitute the majority of the population but they lag significantly behind white women and other groups in their participation in the labour market. Intersectionality requires that we recognise the differences in experience between black women and white women. This is not for the purposes of what some have called the "oppression Olympics" but to research the stratifications of social asymmetries in a manner that allows for an understanding of the complexity of inequality. Based on interview data and observations, we use employment equity discourses to explore the differential positions of black women and white women managers in a major bank's headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. A historical analysis of black women and white women's experience illustrates the systemic and institutional aspects of intersectionality as well as the difficulties in forming coalitions between black women and white women. In the final analysis we argue that the mutual advancement of women requires historicisation and renewed commitment to partnerships to eradicate sexism and racism.