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The Vermont Connection

Authors

Heather C. Lou

Abstract

Womyn1 of Color leaders working in student affairs face challenges navigating institutional roles while remaining authentic to nondominant forms of leadership. In this work, I explore the concept of differential consciousness as a tactic for womyn of Color leaders to navigate workspaces. Differential consciousness is a concept within U.S. third world feminism and refers to a social movement that provides spaces for womyn from historically underrepresented, underserved, and “minoritized” identities to address dominance (Sandoval, 1991). I propose Sandoval’s (1991) theory of oppositional consciousness as a way for womyn of Color to navigate political workspaces in order to embrace authentic, non-dominant leadership styles. Additionally, I provide recommendations to apply Sandoval’s framework to student affairs practice as it relates to social justice and inclusion in postsecondary education.