You won't break our souls : women knowledge workers in higher education show themselves out




Taylor, M. Yvonne

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This critical ethnographic case study applies an intersectional lens (Crenshaw, 1990; Esposito & Williams, 2022) that combines Acker’s gendered organizational theory and inequality regimes (1990, 2010) and Ray’s theory of racialized organizations (2019) to examine women’s experiences working as non-student-facing professional staff, or knowledge workers, and the factors that influenced their decision to leave a single historically White institution of higher education during April 2021-August 2022, also known as The Great Resignation. The study asks three questions: RQ1: What stories do women share about their experiences working as non-student-facing professional staff within a historically White institution of higher education in the United States that led them to resign from the organization during April 2021 to August 2022, The Great Resignation (micro) RQ2: What if any elements of the organization’s structure, as understood and revealed by the participants’ stories, affected their decision to resign? (meso) RQ3: What, if anything, do the participants’ stories reveal about the organization as a gendered and racialized organization? (macro) The study contributes to organizational research by providing contribution to the understanding of historically White institutions of higher education’s organizational structures and how and whether both organizational position as well as identity contribute to experiences of marginalization within these institutions. The study contributes to higher education research literature by addressing an absence in research about knowledge workers within higher education. It also contributes to research related to attrition and retention of staff with marginalized identities.


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