Workplace Barriers facing Black Caribbean Women in the United States
ourage gender and racial discrimination. The research examines the different types of discrimination experienced by this study population in different work environments. The study also explores the effects of the barriers to emotional, physical, psychological health of the population, and the socioeconomic implications of the barriers. A sample group of Black Caribbean women will be selected, and semi-structured open-ended questions will be answered by individual respondents. The expected results express the existence of workplace barriers against Black Caribbean women, and negative effects associated with the barriers. The results will be used to draw a conclusion on the workplace barriers, and appropriate recommendations will be proposed.
Keywords: workplace barriers, Black Caribbean women, race, discrimination, inequality
What are the misconceptions Leading to Workplace Barriers facing Black Caribbean men and Womenin the United States
Black Caribbean’smostly reside in the Western and Southern regions in the United States. There have been tremendous improvements in employment practices, and economic legislation in the US to encourage equality in the past century. The changes have been aimed at adjusting the disparities that exist in the labor market, and organizational cultures, both in the private and public sectors, and gender and ethnic equality at the workplace. However, despite the changes in labor and economic policies, there has been a noticeable disparity in labor, and organizational cultures that bar Black Caribbean women from enjoying equal privileges like employees from other races (Assari & Moghani Lankarani, 2018). This research seeks to reveal workplace inequalities in the workplace against Back Caribbean women.
The workplace inequalities that will be investigated include: educational levels, organizational culture, and privileges offered in different organizations among various races. Employees are accorded training and educational privileges in order to improve their skills so that they can be able to handle more demanding duties and to be best suited for promotions. These privileges have been provided in biased ways in many organizations in which Black Caribbean women are among the least privileged (Black-Chen, 2013). This research will examine the cultures of different organizations and show that there is a discriminatory trend in educational privileges against Black Caribbean women.
Another workplace culture that this research seeks to examine is the trend in which employees in many organizations have been placed in different socioeconomic levels. Research has shown that the level of how important an employee is considered in socioeconomically stratified organizations is measured by their races, financial status, and gender (Bridgewater & Buzzanell, 2010). These attitudes have placed Black Caribbean women in low-rank hierarchies irrespective of their integrity and competence at the workplace. This research will explore different ways through which Black Caribbean women have been stereotyped in socioeconomically stratified organizations and the resultant negative effects they experience.
Equality in job distribution encompasses equitable distribution of positions depending on the diversity of the applicants and the number of employees of the same race in the department of concern. It also requires that employees should be competent in all areas such as sciences, engineering, or other tech and competent in the professions (Boumlik, Reem& Alberts, 2017). This research explores job distribution and presents findings that indicate that there are fewer Black Caribbean women in technical and managerial positions as compared to perceived racially superior races such as White women.
Interviews will be conducted to examine different disparities that contribute to workplace barriers, which obstruct Black Caribbean women from enjoying privileges given to other perceived superior workplace colleagues. The feedback expected from the questionnaires is that all Black Caribbean women experience one or more difficulties in the workplace. The difficulties are expected to be related to race, individual respondent’s culture, organizational culture, and socioeconomic classes consistent with previous researches (Stockman, Hayashi& Campbell, 2015: Black-Chen, 2013). The expected results should prove that the workplace barriers contribute to Black Caribbean women’s: poor motivation in the workplace, sexual harassment, contemptuous attitudes towards them, and health complications such as stress and depression as a result of the workplace issues.
The widespread diversification of the American and global economy has given rise to unprecedented market development and economic opportunities. Consequently, minority groups have made giant steps in the workplace since the removal of segregationist and discriminatory laws in the United States (Holder et al. 2015). The tremendous transformation of the American workplace environment has been described as the feminization of the workplace and the changing complexion of the workforce. In spite of the increasing pace of diversification of the working population, persons of color still continue to be underrepresented both at the skills-based job positions and leadership levels in the American corporate society (Holder et al. 2015). This is especially true for the black women professionals, who constitute only one percent of the country’s corporate officials’ Black women form a significant component of a growing source of talent for the corporate America and have for a long time been considered in the middle-level management (Holder et al. 2015). Nonetheless, as they undergo career progression to the leadership status, they face numerous challenges. These problems pose obstructions to their ascension to corporate senior executive levels, and their eventual overall career advancements. Holder et al. (2015). mention racism as a crucial factor in explaining the underrepresentation of women of color in the workplace and the stressful experiences that they undergo as they try to improve their careers. A significant fraction of business firms in the United States also express hesitance to hire black women out of the widespread belief that they lack skills, leadership capabilities, savvy, and able to spearhead successful competition in the corporate society.
Numerous studies often focus their attention on the general black women population. Consequently, there is still paucity in research about the specific workplace challenges that black Caribbean women face in the United States. The population of black Caribbean women has been on the rise in the United States. In the last 50 years, the United States has witnessed approximately 1.5 million increases in the Caribbean immigrant population (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). Mostpeople of Caribbean descent living in the United States are from more than 15 countries. Out of these nations, 90 percent identify themselves as blacks from countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Trinidad. There is major group diversity among the black Caribbean women as reflected in their language variations. Although the most dominant language among black Caribbean women is English, others speak Spanish, French, and Dutch. Over 80 percent of Caribbean blacks come to the United States due to the strong family connections that they have with their American counterparts and the proximity of the Florida coast to the Caribbean (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015).A majority of Caribbean women reside in Florida and New York. Nonetheless, there is an increasing pattern of their migration and spread to other parts of the country, such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Georgia. By 2008, about 69 percent of Caribbean blacks were legally authorized to live and work in the United States (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). Like their European immigrant counterparts during the Progressive Era, modern black Caribbean groups settle in concentrated urban communities or in close proximity to urban centers where there are employment opportunities and social amenities. Since 90 percent of Caribbean women are from English-speaking nations, their rate of participation in the American labor force is high, approximated at 75 percent (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). However, black Caribbean women are less educated than their African and African American women. More than half of black Caribbean population have at least a high school level of education and are hired mainly in service-related jobs, construction, extraction and transportation. A few of this group find themselves in administrative jobs.
There is a wide gender disparity among Caribbean women in the American workforce. While the females have higher degree of immigration and 73 percent are participants in the labor force, they often lag in terms of earnings by 9 percent to 13 percent, thereby resulting in economic problems (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015).Although they have a strong and long-standing immigration history to the United States, black Caribbean women still remain a disadvantaged and underserved population due to racism and anti-foreign attitudes. While such attitudes have improved gradually over time, they continue to permeate into almost all aspects of the American social system. For instance, health problems, lower level of education, and increased rates of single parent households, frustrate their efforts to seek employment opportunities in the United States. During their childhood, black Caribbean girls, experience strenuous problems due to urban lifestyle (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). These include social isolation from America’s mainstream culture, exposure to slum culture, and an attitude of materialism as a result of the excessive consumption of media contents. Those who reside in communities with insufficient resources, inadequate schools, and high rates of domestic violence often face the biggest obstacles to seeking a decent employment opportunity. In the face of these adversities, Caribbean black women, especially those who reside in urban centers, often maintain that their Caribbean heritage and identity is still significant to them in their effort to buffer the challenges of residing in an urban neighborhood (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). Cultural barriers also frustrate their efforts to operate within the mainstream American cultural workplace. While Americans embrace the dominant culture of individualism, most Caribbean women are collectivized in nature. Conflicting values make it harder for them to be easily integrated into the American workplace (Wells-Wilbon & Vakalahi, 2015). Collectivism and maintained cultural identity should be regarded as strength when organizations work with Caribbean women in the workplace. Thus, conflicting cultural traditions, values, and beliefs frustrate their efforts to adapt to the American workforce.
Some of the challenges that Caribbean black women face in the American workforce have deep historical origins. Blank (2013) argues that the historical and the modern gender and social class relationships among the British, French, and Spanish in the Caribbean islands mainly emphasized on the Afro-Caribbean people. This includes the negative gender relations during slavery and the gender roles during the periods after emancipation. According to Blank (2013), such relations and experiences have been passed into the modern American workforce. The complexities of gender and slavery in the Caribbean were influenced by the region’s multicultural diversity. Most of the region’s occupants currently descended from the enslaved Africans. Traces of beliefs and customs, coupled with European norms, and family values that were present under slavery, have all resulted in the defining of gender roles in the workplace. Such mixtures have been further strengthened by the heritage of indigenous American Indian populations and the impacts of immigrants from the Middle East and Asia. During slavery, certain roles and job responsibilities were available to either gender on plantations, whereas tasks were sex-specific. Adults of both sexes worked hard in field groups on sugar plantations, in their masters’ houses as domestic slaves and petty traders. This practice disadvantaged Caribbean women since only male slaves were allowed to hold elite, and skilled-based job positions as field commanders and artisans. On the other hand, slave women only served as domestic workers, hucksters, petty traders, and unskilled employees. Although slavery ended more than a century ago, this practice of assigning Caribbean workers unskilled jobs still persists in the American system.
Blank (2013) observes that white men in some cases often sue female black Caribbean employees as their sexual concubines, a practice that had its historical roots in slavery, where white men used to sexually harass black women. Although they married white women, they continued to engage in extra-marital sexual harassments with their Caribbean employees. In the same way, pregnancy in the workplace is still discouraged by many companies since it reduces the time that women take in the organization to work. According to Blank (2013), this practice had slavery roots. During that time, childbearing was discouraged since it minimized the length of time that a woman would take in the fields. Some pregnant slaves would attempt to abort their fetuses or commit infanticide in order to avoid bringing up their children as slaves. In the event that slave Caribbean women gave birth, they were assigned older female slaves to provide care for the baby as they worked in the fields.
The workforce participation of Caribbean black women is still dependent on gender roles and power relations in the United States. Despite the increasing trends of high female involvement in family issues, Caribbean cultures and traditionsstill remain male-dominated (Blank, 2013). In such patriarchal societies, even some women continue to quote the Bible to provide rationale that it is men rather than women, who should hold prestigious position in the workplace. This cultural practice has been extended to low representation of women in powerful political and religious seats. However, there is a gradual struggle that is gaining space among the genders as men continue to slowly lose some of their privileged statuses in the Caribbean culture (Blank, 2013). As a result, the overall Caribbean women hold fewer positions at the highest levels of political, economic, and religious decision-making in comparison with their male counterparts. Thus, while many women are employed, they hold less powerful ranks, especially within the formal sector of the economy compared to Caribbean black men. This pattern can be easily observed among Haiti women who live in the United States. The Haiti black women are often less educated than men. For instance, teenage boys of Haiti descent are most likely to attend high school education than girls their age. In the same vein, Haiti working class men are often more educated than Haiti women of the same social status. Consequently, Haiti black women are normally treated as second class citizens with some legal codes that can be traced back to the nineteenth century (Blank, 2013). This trend has increased rates of domestic violence among Caribbean against Caribbean black women, thereby adversely affecting their performance in the workplace.
Reinforcing the findings of Blank (2013), McFarlane (2017) asserts that discrimination of Caribbean black women in the American education sector frustrates their quest for decent income and excellent educational attainment. According to McFarlane (2017), the experiences of women of color within the United States education offers a distinct opportunity to explore the sophisticated influences of interesting identities within the context of changing social situations. To examine how social categories of gender, class, race, and nationality interplay in the Caribbean immigrant women’s experiences of being college students affects their perception of themselves in the general American society (McFarlane, 2017). For most Caribbean women, when they move to the United States, they believe that they come from gendered cultural traditions that determine their social roles within the Caribbean. For most female students, such rules continue to operate in the United States. Thus, the gendered rules and traditions still influence how black Caribbean women view the society in general. Caribbean women’s decisions to migrate to the United States are not often driven by their personal ambitions. Instead, they move to the United States in pursuit of opportunities for their families (McFarlane, 2017). While in America, they still struggle with the uphill task of adapting to the American traditions and cultures. This is particularly true for Caribbean women in the corporate society and those enrolled in higher education. They encounter a complex set of hindrances. A lot of attention has often been placed on race and ethnicity issues more than social class and sexuality for black Caribbean women’s cross-cultural transitions. Therefore, social identity theory stresses on the significance of group memberships for wellbeing.
In the American environment, cultural factors, race, social class and gender are strong bases of affiliation for minorities such as black Caribbean women. Moreover, the social contexts are important for social identification (Flabbi, Piras & Abrahams, 2016). This is especially true when contexts change significantly. In such situations, Caribbean women seek support for identities that shift and individuals who make efforts to maintain their significant identities (Flabbi, Piras & Abrahams, 2016). For instance, Caribbean black women who operate in predominantly Anglo workplaces and have strong ethnic identities, often maintain their attempts to preserve their ethnic identities within new environments by joining cultural groups and establishing friendships with their fellow Caribbean women.
Caribbean black women are an important resource in the American labor market. They are increasingly taking time in large numbers than any specific point in time in history (Flabbi, Piras & Abrahams, 2016). This is owed to the new and emerging pattern in which Caribbean black women acquire education at higher rates than their male counterparts. This is a widely recognized trend in developed economies. Since 1990s, more and more Caribbean black women than men have been enrolled in school both at the high school and college levels (Flabbi, Piras & Abrahams, 2016). While the United States is registering a high rate of gender parity in the general working population, Caribbean black women still face the challenge of underrepresentation in leadership positions in organizations.
Do black Caribbean women face the challenge of getting high quality-work?
Are there low number of black Caribbean women in STEM courses and jobs?
Do gender stereotypes reduce Caribbean women’s participation in high-skilled employment?
Does gender-based violence at home and workplace affect Afro-Caribbean women’s job performance?
Do cross-cultural communication problems affect Caribbean black women’s coping skills in the American workforce?
The workplace environment of black Caribbean men and women, like other parts of the world, has been influenced by racial and cultural factors that influence the ways in which they operate in the American corporate environment.For ordinary Caribbean women, workplace survival in male-dominated societies cannot be overlooked.In the United States, social patterns that emerged among them seek to answer the exigencies of life under global capitalismGender roles of black Caribbean women continue to be the same despite emancipation from slavery.
Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate workplace barriers for Caribbean men and women in the US.One of the most insightful studies can be traced back to 1999, whenBerleant-Schiller (1999) attributed workplace challenges to marriage systems and family roles of Caribbean.According toBerleant-Schiller (1999), continued deviance to the American culture and ways of the slave masters have made it harder for Caribbean women to adapt to the United States work environments and cultures. However, they observe that the rise of feminism increased Caribbean women’s interests in white-collar jobs in early 1970s.
Reddock (2007) attributes workplace barriers among black Caribbean men and women to gender-based inequality in a male-dominated world. According to Reddock (2007) the interplay of gender inequality, race, and ethnicity, has made it difficult for black Caribbean men and women to improve their status and promotions in the workplace. Stereotyping of black men and Caribbean women as lazy and less educated has resulted in few women in the workplace.Gender-based inequalities have also made it difficult for Caribbean women to pursue technical workplace roles.
While Reddock (2007) faults gender inequality as the leading cause of workplace barriers, on the other hand, Novta and Wong (2017) states that Caribbean women have progressed in job participation.According to Novta and Wong (2017), women across the world continue to be underutilized in the workplace.However, they observe that Caribbean women are increasingly gaining in terms of more women participation in the labor force. Still, Novta and Wong (2017) states that Caribbean women have a long way to go in terms of closing the pay gap with their male counterparts.
Paris (2016) discusses workplace injustices among Caribbean black women, especially those who are deaf through historical point of view.The author observes that deaf Caribbean black women teachers constitute only about 0.7% of the total population of teachers attending to K-12 classes in the Western region of the US, which represents a small number compared to other tribes.The small number of Caribbean black women teachers attending to K-12 classes can be attributed to past historical injustices that were perpetrated by colonist, who were against the education of aboriginal Indian tribes (Paris, 2016). Caribbean black women who teach in schools of the deaf are not very much respected and are not given leadership positions due to the perception that they do not receive proper education.
For Caribbean black women being deaf and speaking in sign language is considered a tribe and a blessing, which other tribes view as a disease thereby sidelining deaf Black Indians from leadership positions.According to Paris (2016), 25.3% of Caribbean black women above 18 years suffer from hearing impairments that range from mild to severe. As such, the community is not favored much about diverse workplace leadership positions and eligibility for promotion. The author explains discrimination against Caribbean black women at the workplace in terms of intersectionality, which is the combination of many aspects of identity in social community systems (Paris, 2016).The author suggests that the deafness among Black Indian women is a traditionally oppressed identity from the colonial period.The perception that Caribbean black women are likely to have hearing impairments contribute to their not being potential candidates for leadership positions and promotion at the workplace.
Kimerling, Alvarez, Pavao, Mack, Smith and Baumrind (2009) conducted a research to find out the difficulties that Caribbean black women go through at the workplace with regards to intimate partner violence.Their findings show that Caribbean black women experience low to severe intimate partner violence from time to time.The violence can be physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.Most Caribbean black women who have been victims of Intimate partner violence have reported psychological distress at the workplace, and employment instability (Kimerling, Alvarez, Pavao, Mack, Smith and Baumrind, 2009).The abused women become depressed and stressed up at the workplace, a situation that causes them to be viewed as incompetent by their colleagues at the workplace.The women are thus disrespected and looked down upon by their colleagues and bosses at the workplace. This is because they are viewed as incompetent since most of them do not reveal domestic problems that they experience to their workmates (Kimerling, Alvarez, Pavao, Mack, Smith and Baumrind, 2009).The domestic violence experienced by Caribbean black women brings them many employment-related problems. The problems include suspensions from work and forced leaves or even termination of employment due to the incompetence caused by depression and stress from intimate partner violence (Kimerling, Alvarez, Pavao, Mack, Smith and Baumrind, 2009).Caribbean black women who sometimes report or share their negative experiences at home are ridiculed by their workmates, which worsens their stress and depression. Others are lured into sexual traps by men who pretend to console them yet are up to taking advantage of the situation that the women are going through.
Burnette (2017) discusses work-based challenges that Caribbean black women face through a qualitative research using the great recession as an example.The author observes that the great recession increased unemployment rates of Caribbean black women from 4.6% to 9% (Burnette, 2017).Data from the author’s research show that there is a significantly big wage gap between Black women and White women, showing that there is racial discrimination in remunerating employees.Caribbean black women’s salaries and wages are below that of White women by up to 10% yet they do the same job, and are in the same rank (Burnette, 2017). The discrimination against Caribbean black women is as a result of the perception that they are inferior to White women in terms of skills and efficiency, although no research has been done to verify the claim.Burnette (2017) notes that during the great recession, Caribbean black women were among the most affected group of people in terms of salary cuts and termination of employment. According to Burnette (2017), Caribbean black women were among the people who were faced by the challenges of tougher labor market, with loss of jobs, forced leaves and suspension rate of up to 8.4% higher than White women. This is an indication that White women are favored more than Caribbean black women in the United States.
Lookism is a form of preferential treatment in which people who are considered attractive by others are treated well whereas those who they consider less attractive or physically desirable are discriminated (Sims, 2017).According to Sims (2017), Caribbean black women are severely discriminated against by light-skinned workmates not because they are less competent or talented, but because of lookism.The lookism attitude affects Caribbean black women across many sectors from transport to hotelier industry.In many work environments, Caribbean black women are discriminated against by workmates and bosses in favor of light-skinned counterparts due to the perception that they are not as physically attractive as White women (Sims, 2017). This discrimination on the basis of skin color and physical appearance sometimes gets out of hand to the extent where Caribbean black women are overworked and underpaid and are sometimes physically and verbally abused by workmates and bosses (Sims, 2017).
Violence by intimate partners has brought stress and depression in the workplace.Labor market inequality and unfair wage distribution affect Caribbean black women than their White colleagues.Sexual and harassment is also a big barrier to success and efficiency for Caribbean black women at the workplace.Discrimination based on physical appearance is also another issue of concern affecting Caribbean black women in the workplace.
Caribbean black women often face cross-cultural communication challenges in their American workplace. Bridgewater and Patrice (2010) argue that Caribbean women immigrants often struggle to position themselves in a way that make sense of their workplace communication. They utilize storytelling approaches to enhance communication with their American colleagues. In their effort to investigate these communication challenges, Bridgewater and Patrice (2010) utilized constant comparative technique to analyze 25 Caribbean immigrants. The study found two discursive positioning that included cultural moral narratives of the American Dream and stories that generate and resist specific intercultural workplace communication. Thus, personal sense making stories broke down the monolithic cultural and moral narratives of the American Dream to reflect the participants’ perceptions regarding communicative strategies, as well as discursive self-positioning for dealing with their distinct workplace experiences. Caribbean women tried to make sense of their experiences through invocation of difference discourses, which include class, gender, and immigrant status.
Gender-based violence is a rampant problem among Caribbean black women. According to a study conducted by Stockman, Hayashi and Campbell (2015), minority women are adversely affected by gender-based violence both at home and in the workplace. This results in underperformance and low productivity in the workplace. The study further states that marginalized Caribbean women such as those who are foreign born are more likely to experience different forms of violence than those who are born in the United States. According to Stockman, Hayashi and Campbell (2015), Caribbean women are more likely to experience sexual; -related gender-based violence in the workplace and at home in comparison with their counterparts who are born in the United States. The effects of gender-based violence include trauma, HIV/ STI infections, depression, and physical injuries that adversely affect their overall performance, productivity, and job satisfaction in the workplace.
Gender-based stereotyping is one of the most common challenges that deter Caribbean black women from pursuing high-skilled careers. A qualitative survey undertaken by Miller (2017) sought to examine the issues associated with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Using grounded case study, Miller found that there is high level of underrepresentation and low participation of Caribbean women in STEM-related professions. However, Miller notes that Caribbean black women from Panama are increasingly becoming successful in their efforts to navigate across the difficult race and gender barriers associated with education and employment in STEM. After gathering data and triangulating information through interviews, Miller (2017) found that socio-cultural values and strategies from Caribbean communities offered the support required to strengthen a positive sense of self-identity. Moreover, Miller (2017) argues that inculcation of middle-class values such as educational; realization and hard work is supportive of their persistence through STEM education.
Afro- Caribbean women in the United States continue to grapple with the challenge of underrepresentation in technical workplaces. According to Boumilk, Reem and Ian (2017), fewer Caribbean women major in STEM than in liberal arts and social sciences, aproblem that results in their low numbers in technical courses. Using data from students’ responses and surveys, Boumilk, Reem and Ian (2017) argue that the need to recruit more diverse women in the workforce in the STEM fields has been a challenge that could be traced back to the Sputnik crisis and America’s responses to the perceived technological disparity between the United States and rival countries in the 1950s. This perception of gender inequalities is partly associated with attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that the Caribbean’s’ culture associate with individual’s biological sex. Such gender inequality barriers hamper their development in specific areas of technical careers.
Level of education significantly affects abilityof women to seek employment opportunities compared to their male counterparts. According to Black-Chen (2013), Caribbean women have been dragging behind in terms of basic and college education enrollments compared to other minority groups. However, Black-Chen (2013) observes that there is a remarkable increase in the continuing education enrollments among non-traditional-aged families in Jamaica and United States. In an effort to investigate the academic experiences of Jamaican women going back to college, Black-Chen placed emphasis on support services within the higher education institutions attended. Black-Chen asserts that policymakers should focus their attention on support services within the higher education institutions to address the challenges and develop strategies for successful academic and social integration into the higher education environment. Further, the researcher suggests the need to amplify women’s voices as a way to understand the efficacy of education in providing women competitive job opportunities.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the workplace barriers facing Caribbean black women in the United States. To achieve this objective, a descriptive qualitative design was used. Descriptive design was selected because it is effective in describing in an accurate and systematic way the facts and characteristics of a specific population (Caribbean black women). The design is also instrumental in offering an accurate portrayal or account of characteristics of a specific group of people, situations and their challenges.
The qualitative research selected offered depth of understanding on the research topic. This was particularly true when it came to examine the nuances in attitudes and behaviors of Caribbean black women, and assessing social processes over time. Consequently, the main strength of this method rests in the depth of understanding that it permits. While some quantitative research methodologies may be challenged as superficial, this problem is rarely associated with qualitative research (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). Further, the qualitative method that was selected was flexible in nature. This is one of the leading strengths of qualitative design, since it gives room for the modification of the research design at any specific point in time.
A total of 200 participants were selected for the study. The participants were Caribbean black women who form part of the American workforce, drawn from both the formal and informal sectors. The participants were selected through random stratified sampling. This method entailed dividing the population into subgroups or strata and taking a random sample from each stratum through simple random or systematic sampling. This sampling procedure was selected since it supports representation of all groups of participants within the selected study population. These include Caribbean black women who are young, old, and from different countries and sectors.
The participants were administered with personal interviews and questionnaires as the main data gathering methods. Personal interviews were conducted to collect qualitative data about their views, feelings, and attitudes about working in the American job labor force. The interviews were done in different places, including the interviewees’ workplaces, homes, and factory sites. Respondents were contacted, and informed consent gained from them. The data collected were analyzed using content analysis procedures.
Discussion and Conclusion
To investigate the research questions, participants were administered with questionnaires and interviews. The leading barriers that were identified by participants included: racial stereotyping of Caribbean black women (80 percent), challenge of getting formal employment and technical jobs (78 percent), challenge of having career progression and leadership company leadership positions (75 percent), and violence and harassments against Caribbean women both at home and in the workplace (69 percent). After further investigations, the study found that a lower fraction of black Caribbean women in the United States are often admitted to higher levels of employment or white-collar jobs. In the last five years, there has been a significant increase in Black Caribbean women participating in low-quality jobs, both in the formal and the informal sectors of the American economy. For instance, many Caribbean black women often work in temporary contracts and casual labor. Consequently, they do not have the prospect of climbing the employment ladder to managerial and executive positions. This problem has also led to high turnover rates in the proportion of female laborers on temporary contracts. In low quality levels of employment, black Caribbean women are often subject to high turnover rates and increased unemployment, coupled with reduced social benefits and stagnant wages. This results in economic insecurity. Consequently, they suffer from minimal prospects of being admitted to high-quality work.
Like their African American counterparts, very few black Caribbean women are enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. Consequently, very few of them are often seen employed in technical careers. This problem is partly attributed to racial stereotypes of black women as people who are mainly talented in sports, social sciences and art courses and careers (McGee & Bentlay, 2017). In addition, challenges such as structural racism, sexism, and race-gender biases are salient among black Caribbean women in the STEM contexts. Such experiences are often sources of strain and depression, which the women battle with in ways that show both resilience and trauma (King Miller, 2017). Such negative experiences often motivate organizations to provide support for high-performing students who in some cases face the risks from multiple sources. There has been widespread underrepresentation of Afro-Caribbean women. For instance, Panamanian and Jamaican Afro-Caribbean women often face challenges associated with navigation of race and gender barriers associated with education and employment in the STEM (King Miller, 2017). Like other women in the white communities, Afro-Caribbean women are often brandished as individuals who are less intelligent to pursue STEM programs and careers. This has perpetuated long-term underrepresentation of black Caribbean women in STEM education and employment.
In a male dominated society, Caribbean women’s cultural roles are restricted to the kitchen and household chores. Patriarchal systems are often stronger among Caribbean black women compared to the white society. As a result, a significant number of Caribbean women still hold the cultural view that men are the breadwinners (King Miller, 2017). As such, the role of women is to settle household chores as men pursue white-collar employment. This problem has resulted in the widening of gender disparity in the employment of black Caribbean women in formal employments. Irrespective of their class and levels of income, black Caribbean women still believe that men should direct them on the right career choices to make. They also believe that men are their overall heads and what they tell them to do should be the right decision to make. In such environments, some men often seek to financially dominate their wives, thus telling them to go for low-cadre jobs. In response to this problem, there has been an upsurge in the number of Caribbean women, who struggle to effect social and political change in the general society. Since power is not only held by men, but it also enforced through ideological, economic, and social mechanisms, the women have launched massive activism to empower fellow Caribbean women to free themselves from male domination. This includes engaging in activities aimed at bringing policy changes and creating perspectives for the common good of women to minimize inequalities and other social problems that deter women from making it in the workplace.
Gender-based violence against black Caribbean women at home and in the workplace adversely affects their physical and mental wellbeing. This results in underperformance and low productivity when they are at work. Caribbean black women who undergo intimate partner violence normally show high signs of depression and lack of concentration in their respective workplaces(Stockman,Hayashi & Campbell, 2015). This can be a potential barrier to their prospects of ever advancing in their career lives. Marginalized groups such as black Caribbean women who are foreign-born run the highest risks of experiencing intimate partner violence than their counterparts born within the United States. For instance, black Caribbean women are more likely to experience sexual-related intimate partner violence in comparison with women from other racial groups (Stockman,Hayashi & Campbell, 2015). The impacts of intimate partner violence on their professional and career development are adverse. This is because intimate partner violence is strongly related to many negative physical and mental conditions and health risk behaviors among women of Caribbean backgrounds. Chronic pains, severe depression, and traumatic brain injuries may keep women from going to the workplace.
Cultural differences influence how Caribbean black women communicate with fellow employees from the mainstream American culture. Although a significant number of black Caribbean women speak in the English language, there is a major difference in their dialects compared to their American counterparts (Bridgewater & Buzzanell, 2010). This creates major potentials for conflicts and disagreements in the workplace.
There is little representation of Caribbean black women in the corporate leadership. Flabbi, Claudia and Scott (2017) attempted to estimate if the measures of female corporate leadership at the firm are associated with the organizational performance in America and the Caribbean region. The researchers found that despite gender parity in the general working population, the higher people look at the leadership in terms of ranks within an organization, the lower the number of women they will find. According to Flabbi, Claudia and Scott (2017), this underrepresentation of women in higher positions is more pronounced among black Caribbean women and Latin Americans. Although the American continent is one of the most important regions in the world, the researchers assert that women are not fairly represented in company leadership despite having comparatively the same levels of education as their male counterparts. Moreover, they conclude that under-representation is most common among Caribbean women.
Wage discrimination sis a problem that continues to affect black Caribbean women in the United States. Although they are qualified for the same jobs as their counterparts, most continue to be paid lower wages for the same efforts that they deliver. According to Elliot (2006), the earnings that Caribbean women are still faced with socioeconomic problems despite having superior human capital. Using Jamaica as a case study, Elliot (2006) examined female lifestyles and found that they are advances because discipline-specific theories have failed to explain the occupational clustering and the resultant earnings gap. Elliot (2006) argues that lifestyle constraints can be associated with characteristics of black Caribbean women’s social environments. Since such constraints affect different groups of women in varying ways, then policies meant to minimize occupational dissimilarities and female-male earnings gaps should adapt a disaggregated analysis.
Caribbean black women are less likely to get decent jobs in the United States compared to other minority groups. A study conducted by Hamilton, Easley and Dixon (2018) found that black Caribbean women still find themselves in certain types of employment niches that are mainly informal in nature. Even after upgrading their level of education, black Caribbean women still face the challenge of getting white collar job opportunities in the United States. Hamilton, Easley and Dixon (2018) note that immigrant Caribbean women are found in occupational niches that are not only informal, but also contribute to the low wage gaps that they continue to face in the country. Using data from the American Community Survey,Hamilton, Easley and Dixon (2018) found that compared to US-born blacks, most Caribbean women immigrants have similar or greater representation in different occupational niches. However, employment in a specific niche has a minimal but positive association with earnings. They also note that not all Caribbean women have this problem. For instance, black Caribbean immigrants from English-speaking nations such as West Indies have higher labor force participation rates, higher employment rates, as well as higher earnings than their American-born blacks.
Caribbean black women are some of the immigrants who face racial discrimination in the American workplace. According to Assari and Maryam (2018), this problem is partly attributed to racial imbalances in the composition of workers in the employment population. This problem is partly attributed to socioeconomic status, which protect populations and people from health challenges. Assari and Maryam (2018) remark that while racial composition of the workplace may be a mechanism through which high socioeconomic status increase discriminatory experiences for blacks, males and females do not differ in this respect.
There are various factors that pose obstruction to career progression of black Caribbean women. A research undertaken by Wyss (2015) revealed that there is no shortage of educated Caribbean women in the workplace. However, very few make it to top government positions and company leadership. This problem is bought by gender stereotyping and limiting traditions that limit the role of women to domestic chores.
The contemporary workplace environment in the US has many challenges that negatively affect marginalized groups and ethnic minorities such as Black Caribbean women. Evidences from researches show that Black Caribbean women experience many workplace barriers most of which result from ethnic stereotypes and racial profiling rather than their incompetence. No research has shown that there is a race that is superior to the other, or that Black Caribbean women are less competent than people from other racial backgrounds. As such, the workplace culture in which Black Caribbean women are typified as inferior or secondary to perceived superior races such as Whites results from prejudice against rather than incompetence of the Black Caribbean women. This is because even highly successful Black Caribbean women are also despised and envied by Whites, in equal measure as less fortunate Black Caribbean women in low hierarchy positions. The biggest workplace barriers experienced by Black Caribbean women include but not limited to racial discrimination, rape, insults, battery, denial of freedoms and opportunities to participate in work-related planning and professional contribution, intimidation, being overburdened with work, poor working conditions, and stress and burnouts. These barriers often lead to health complications such as stress and anxiety disorders, which ultimately cause poor motivation and incompetence.
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