However, it seems having a thriving career, complete with respect and fair treatment – all while raising a family – is still out of reach for most black women.
So what’s a sister to do?
Black women, in particular, bear the brunt of the 21st-century malady dubbed “emotional tax” by US-based research firm, Catalyst. In a recent report, the company revealed that nearly 60% of women of colour surveyed in that country experienced emotional tax – a combination of feeling different from peers at work because of gender, race and/or ethnicity and the associated effects on health, well-being and ability to thrive at work.
Sadly, emotional tax is alive and thriving in SA, particularly for young black women pushing social norms, entering and advancing their careers in various business sectors, says clinical psychologist Sian Green.
She explains that, in a general sense, emotional tax is the cumulative effect of what an individual absorbs on an emotional level within their environment. This could range from feeling exploited when over-charged for purchases to feeling helpless while sitting in traffic, then getting home and being confronted by other issues.
Each of these impacts in isolation isn’t a big deal, but as they accumulate, the weight gets heavier.
This cumulative effect, says Green, forms part of emotional tax: your energy and emotional resources are spent up on weathering impacts that weren’t accounted for.
“Unmanaged emotional tax can lead to physical and psychological symptoms, such as burn-out, and can create immense struggle for women eager to succeed.”