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The inability to fit in and become invisible: Narratives of British Pakistani female managers and professionals

By Shehla Riza Arifeen and Jawad Syed

Paper presentation at the Academy of Management Conference, Anaheim, August 5-9, 2016.

This paper uses an intersectional lens to explore career experiences of ‘the second generation’ British Pakistani female managers and professionals, and examines the ways in which organizations contribute to or mitigate inequality. While this group should be relatively advantaged by virtue of its managerial and professional status, the study finds that the disadvantage caused by intersectionality of gender, ethnicity and religion continues to be reproduced. The paper demonstrates how practices that are considered ‘the norm’ in organizations, and are crucial to fitting in, can create feelings of difference and marginalization because of the diverse employees’ inability to fit in and become invisible. The study shows that being at an intersectional location increases these women’s visibility in a negative way, creating a situation that perpetuates and reproduces inequalities.

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