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Gender, race and power: an intersectional reading of “opting out”

Georgianna Meléndez (College of Management, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Banu Özkazanç-Pan (School of Engineering and School of Professional Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 16 June 2020



This paper considers the phenomenon of “opting out” from an intersectional lens, bringing in hitherto undertheorized dimensions of gender, race and power into the conversation related to why and how some women of color may make the “choice” to leave an organization.


Through a single case study approach, our research elucidates how identity-connected experiences unconnected to work/life balance constraints and tensions caused one immigrant woman of color to leave the workplace. We expand upon the current use of intersectionality in management and organization studies by applying it as a lens to bring into consideration power relations in organizations and structural inequality as the context for understanding why and how some women of color may leave their places of employment.


Based on our in-depth case study, we demonstrate that microaggressions, power relations, and structural inequities contribute to some women of color opting out.


This paper is of value to scholars interested in intersectionality framework applications.



Meléndez, G. and Özkazanç-Pan, B. (2020), "Gender, race and power: an intersectional reading of “opting out”", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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