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Racial Microaggression Experiences and Coping Strategies of Black Women in Corporate Leadership

March 20

Aisha Holder '15

Aisha M.B. Holder, Ph.D. ‘15


While people of color have made significant gains in the workplace since U.S legislation made discrimination and segregation illegal, they continue to be underrepresented at executive levels in corporate America. This trend is particularly pervasive for Black women who are fairly well represented at entry and middle level management but continue to be underrepresented at executive levels in corporate America despite representing an important and growing source of talent for corporate institutions. Racism has been cited as a critical factor in explaining underrepresentation of Black women in senior management in corporate America.

Modern racism, like racial microaggressions is more likely to be covert, indirect, and ambiguous. With the intersection of their marginalized identities of race and gender, Black women are particularly vulnerable to negative stereotypes that create barriers to career advancement. This presentation will provide an overview of experiences of racial microaggressions in the workplace and their psychological and career related impact along with coping strategies used by Black women corporate leaders who had broken through the concrete ceiling to career advancement and demonstrated powerful resilience in the face of significant barriers.

Aisha Holder, Ph.D. is a Psychologist at Columbia University Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). Dr. Holder completed her postdoctoral fellowship at CPS. Prior to Columbia, she completed her APA accredited internship at Princeton House Behavioral Health. Dr. Holder has co-authored articles on racial microaggressions published in the American Psychologist, Professional Psychology Research and Practice and Qualitative Psychology journals. Dr. Holder has also co-authored a chapter on workplace microaggressions published in Talking about Structural Inequalities in Everyday Life: New Politics of Race in Groups, Organizations and Social Systems.

Prior to pursuing a career in counseling psychology, Dr. Holder was a Vice President at JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) in the Corporate Training and Career Advancement Program divisions. She began her career as an Associate in the Human Resources Associate Program, a management program at JPMC. After completing the Associate’s program, she assumed the role of Human Resources Business Partner in the Retail Financial Services and Investment Banking divisions of JPMC. Dr. Holder received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Fordham University, M.A. in psychological counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in psychology from Spelman College.