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‘No one can actually see us in positions of power’: the intersectionality between gender and culture for women in leadership
  1. Helen Skouteris1,2,
  2. Michelle Ananda-Rajah3,
  3. Claire Blewitt1,
  4. Darshini Ayton1
  1. 1 Health and Social Care Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Warwick Business School, Warwick University, Coventry, UK
  3. 3 Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Helen Skouteris, Health and Social Care Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; helen.skouteris{at}; Dr Darshini Ayton; darshini.ayton{at}

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Research examining women in leadership has traditionally focused on a single aspect of women’s lives, often their gender or race and ethnicity. Increasing awareness of the complexity associated with multiple and diverse identities within the workplace offers an opportunity to examine how cultural and ethnic diversity interacts with women’s leadership experiences.1 Intersectionality provides a conceptual lens to better understand the overlapping forms of discrimination and marginalisation that deter women leaders and the power domains that can influence their experiences and ability in the workforce and beyond.2 It can encourage deeper understanding of how interacting dimensions of identity, including gender, ethnicity, class, ability and sexuality can lead to oppression and social inequality.3 However, intersectional perspectives within leadership literature, including efforts to understand the leadership experiences of First Nations women and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women, are limited.3 4

Equal representation of diverse women in leadership roles is fundamental to the economic and social fabric of society. Diversity of perspectives and experiences are vital to drive innovation, economic growth and social progress. While there have been improvements in women’s participation in the workforce, ascension into top leadership positions remains significantly low.5–7 Regarding women leaders from minority cultural backgrounds, especially women of colour, intersectionality emphasises the multiple and simultaneous barriers that can further compound workplace inequity across sectors, including healthcare.3 8 9 Intersectionality is a powerful means to understand leadership experiences and ability at the intersection of culture and gender and enact solutions to the significant barriers faced by diverse women who aspire to leadership.1–4 10 This issue of intersectionality regarding women from CALD backgrounds and First Nations women is the focus of this commentary. We are a team of healthcare clinicians and/or health and social care academic researchers from diverse backgrounds who have experienced …

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