Category Archives: Empire State Virtual NY Branch AAUW Diversity

Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Intersectionality

Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Intersectionality

By Anita Nahal, Phd, CDP, D&I Consultant, ESVB
Heide Parreño, Diversity Director, ESVB

 “Perspectives: Have there been times when you were personally discriminated against?

Crenshaw: I have a story I tell a lot. A member of our study group at Harvard was the first AfricanAmerican member of a previously exclusive white club. He invited the rest of the group—me and another African-American man—to visit him at this club. When we knocked on the door, he opened it, stepped outside, and shut it quickly. He said that he was embarrassed because he had forgotten to tell us something about entering the building. My male friend immediately bristled, saying that if black people couldn’t go through the front door, we weren’t coming in at all. But our friend said, “No, no, no, that’s not it—but women have to go through the back door.” And my friend was totally okay with that.

Perspectives: How did that affect you?

Crenshaw: I understood that we can all stand together as long as we think that we are all equally affected by a particular discrimination, but the moment where a different barrier affects a subset of us, our solidarity often falls apart. I began to look at all the other ways that not only the race and civil rights agenda but the gender agenda are sometimes uninformed by and inattentive to the ways that subgroups experience discrimination.”

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The term “intersectionality” was first coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, a snippet of whose conversation in an interview appears above. Crenshaw had argued in her research that “…the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black and of being a woman considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.” This same kind of intersectionality, many individuals feel and go through, though not always due to race or gender.  It could be these two, plus nationality or religion or sexual orientation, or immigrant status. Or it could be any other combination as well.  When individuals find themselves standing at the center of various intersections that can define them within their own understanding, or others can employ to define them, it becomes a challenge for diversity and inclusion.  And since the intersection is not stagnant or set in stone, individuals keeps interacting with so many diversities (their own and those of others), they can lap and overlap causing even more confusion. That is why the DIAL method for understanding our various layers was developed (Nahal). It stands for Diversity and Inclusion Applied in Layers.  Read more here  In another write up we shall discuss this more. Indeed the concept of intersectionality is very critical, one that Michelle Rivera-Clonch, PhD, Director of the Omega Women’s Leadership Centerone also noted it in her keynote speech at the 2017 NYS AAUW convention.

We need to remember that individuals are not mono-lithic, and no one race, group, etc. is monolithic either. Thus we need to make sure when interacting with individuals that we don’t type cast them.  We need to reduce the impact of our pre conceived notions, and unconscious bias that our first visual impressions give us. Princeton University psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov conducted research published in the July 2006 issue of Psychological Science, which showed that it only takes seven seconds to form an opinion about others.  However, that is based on simply visual representation.  And individuals are much more than what is apparent to the eye. Next time we will discuss the Iceberg theory related to this.  Cheers!

AAUW NYS District V Conference on “Diversity and Inclusion in Today’s Workplace

Congrats to the organizers, speakers
and all those members and friends
who contributed to the success of
the AAUW NYS District V Conference on
“Diversity and Inclusion in Today’s Workplace”
held at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City on October 15, 2016.


The participants included keynote speaker Bich Ha Pham, Public Advocate NYC; Azadeh Khalili, Executive Director, Commission on Gender Equity, Office of the Mayor, NYC; Pamela Abner, Chief Administrative Officer, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Mount Sinai Hospital; Rippi Karda, Assistant General Counsel, Verizon, Basking Ridge, NJ and Gabrielle Lyse Brown, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, NYC Bar Association. Congrats to the District V Leadership for such a successful Conference!

Empire State Virtual NY Branch AAUW Diversity

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

                                     Heide                                      Anital Nahal
                        Heide Parreño,  Diversity Director, ESVB          Anita Nahal, D&I Consultant, ESVB

This year has seen the Empire State Virtual Branch (ESVB) launch out in a focused and targeted way in Diversity and Inclusion initiatives (D&I). Based upon an anonymous on-line survey to determine what members believed the ESVB did in D&I and what areas needed focus, the Empire State Virtual Branch now has four initiatives for 2016 and 2017 as our commitment to D&I. These are:

  • More  informative and user friendly web presence for D&I initiatives on our ESVB website,
  • Yearly award for ESVB AAUW members for work done on Diversity and Inclusion. Criteria to be developed with in-put from members and the NYS VP on programs,
  • Holding D&I programs /events /lectures / representation at District Meeting, State Convention and Leadership Conference in Cazenovia,

Our ESVB D&I team, Heide Parreño, director, and Dr. Anita Nahal, consultant will develop action items in each of the initiatives. Here’s an action for the first initiative regarding the website from Anita.

  • To provide links to AAUW State and National D&I initiatives
  • To provide general resources related to D&I, eg., conferences on D&I in NYC or a list of some useful publications and/or links to relevant D&I websites in the US and globally
  • Seek input from ESVB members as to what they would like to see on their website related to D&I

Diversity and Inclusion is the heart and conscience of AAUW. The value of diversity and inclusion should be embedded in the infra-structure of AAUW’s awareness, consciousness, intentionality and in all that we do. (Heide Parreño).


More quotes on diversity, inclusion and Unconscious Bias from Anita Nahal at her blog:

AAUW Empire State Virtual Branch

Has Title IX helped women compete in the Olympics?

TitleIX-gymnast-FBcover-update-2016-768x284As you know, every two years, the Olympics ignite fervor, national pride, and competitiveness as the world’s greatest athletes come together. For female athletes in particular, the Olympic Games is a rare opportunity to garner international attention for their performances.

At this year’s Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, women outnumber men on the U.S. team for a second straight games — 292 women to 263 men — setting the record for most ever female Olympians competing for a single nation. Thanks in part to Title IX, the 1972 law combating sex discrimination in federally funded education and athletics, U.S. women have secured greater access to play and compete, thereby expanding their opportunities to succeed athletically at both professional and Olympic levels.

What is happening in Diversity?


Heide Parreño
Diversity Director
Empire State Virtual Branch

In September 2015,  Governor Andrew Cuomo  announced a new “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy” for the State University of New York . It was immediately adopted by the SUNY Board of Trustees. The plan  requires  a chief diversity officer in each of the 64 SUNY campuses. The officer will   promote inclusiveness and implement best practices for diversity.  Included in the policy’s plan is a tool where students can voluntarily self identify their sexual orientation and gender identity. The goal of the plan is to define diversity broadly to include race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It also includes more options for registering age, socioeconomic status, status as a veteran, disabilities, first generation students and whether or not a student plans to work on or off campus while in school. The policy includes plans to increase diversity among students faculty and staff. ((Democrat and Chronicle, Saturday, September12, 2015, p. 9a)

There has been a surge of protests nationally from colleges and universities about racial discrimination and lack of diversity. Across the nation, students demand an end to systemic and structural racism on campus. The top 7 most common demands at 51 U.S campuses are: 1). Increase diversity of professors, 2) require diversity training, 3) fund cultural centers, 4) require classes for students, 5) increase diversity of students, 6) track race related offenses, and 7) expand mental health resources. These has been collected on a website called THE DEMANDS.

Locally, in Rochester, New York, the University of Rochester medical students focused their protest on racism as a public health concern. “ We, as future physicians, could not stay silent because we know that medicine is not immune to the racism that is rooted in our education, housing, employment and criminal justice system.” Guylda Richard, president of the Student national medical education.

Where is AAUW in all of these?

On December 15, 2015,  a Webinar was held to take a first look at AAUW’s New Tool Kit.
How many of NYS Board of Directors attended, branch leaders, diversity officers?
What is a follow-up in public policy?
Where do we get the information?

At ESVB we continue to have a Facebook page. I recruited a new member of our diversity team.  Her name is Dr. Doris Meadows. I will do a formal introduction in our next newsletter. I welcome suggestions for our diversity team and active participation in our membership in diversity and inclusion.