“Coercive Assimilationism: The Perils of Muslim Women’s Identity Performance in the Workplace”
Sahar F. Aziz, Associate Professor of Law, Texas A&M Law School
Fifty years after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, unlawful discrimination continues to ail American workplaces. Despite the prevailing narrative that America is now “post-racial” after the election of the first African American president, equal opportunity still eludes many Americans. Their membership in racial, ethnic, or religious groups stigmatized as the “other” adversely affects their access to education, political empowerment, and equal opportunity in the workplace
Female employees who fall under multiple protected classes face an intersection of identity performance pressures as women, racial or ethnic minorities, and religious minorities. Professor Aziz’s talk focuses on the application of social psychology and antidiscrimination theories to the case of Muslim women of color in the workplace, as her paper examines in detail the identity performance challenges and contradictions faced by Muslim women of color, and how courts’ unwillingness to recognize the harms caused by coercive assimilationist pressure to conform one’s identity to comport to high status group norms puts Muslim women of color at risk of falling between the cracks of Title VII jurisprudence.