The Vermont Connection


Heather C. Lou


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.