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Dr. Alexis Smith Washington, here receiving the 2019 OSU Distinguished Early Career Faculty Award from OSU President Burns Hargis (right) and Dr. Udaya DeSilva, has been awarded the Saroj Parasuraman Award from the Academy of Management.

Spears gender, diversity scholar recognized

Monday, June 15, 2020

Oklahoma State University professor Dr. Alexis Smith Washington, with co-authors, has been awarded the 2020 Saroj Parasuraman Award for the best peer-reviewed journal article in the field of gender and diversity by the Academy of Management. Washington, associate professor of management in the Spears School of Business, won for novel research published last year examining a paradox in the perception of black female executives as professionals.

The paper, “Making the Invisible Visible, Paradoxical Effects of Intersectional Invisibility on the Career Experiences of Executive Black Women in the Workplace,” surveyed the professional experiences of 59 black women in corporate senior-level management. The executives shared common experiences of being both hyper-visible while at the same time overlooked in the workplace. Smith’s co-authors included Drs. Marla Baskerville Watkins and Jamie Ladge, Northeastern University, and Pamela Carton, Springboard - Partners in Cross Cultural Leadership.

“What we uncovered was that these women were overanalyzed and scrutinized because of their difference as women of color in this environment, but that they were also almost invisible as professionals,” said Washington. “Their capabilities were often ignored, and these women had to come up with strategies to emphasize what they brought to the table as credible professionals.”

Washington’s research focuses on the multiple identity groups that all people belong to – gender, race, sexuality, age, nationality, disability – and the status and privileges those identities confer in the workplace. Much of her work examines the intersection of those identities.

“Our paper was the first to really explore this concept of intersectionality and its impact on how people function and behave at work and our understanding of diversity and inclusion,” she said.

“Dr. Washington is a shining star at the Spears School of Business and recognized nationally because she has produced cutting-edge scholarship,” said Dr. James Pappas, head of the OSU Department of Management. “I believe that her true gift, however, is addressing important and difficult questions within her research so that it’s more accessible to our students and business professionals.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington and her co-authors will accept the award this summer in a virtual ceremony during the Academy of Management’s annual conference. The AOM also named the paper a finalist in its Career Division best published papers competition.

Read more about Washington’s research.

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