A Tip for Socially Just Supervision: Incorporate Intersectional Feminist Praxis

“Institutions of higher education are not exempt from the impacts of systems of oppression, nor are they blameless in perpetuating those systems. Building more equitable communities requires a commitment to be critical of the structures and ourselves.”

—From the note: Confronting Systems of Oppression in Higher Education

While that statement was framed towards higher education, it applies to every institution in our society. Systems; large and complex as they may be, are often maintained by people, who have thoughts, and power and agency to make decisions that are informed by those thoughts.

None of us are exempt from this, and committing to ongoing critical self-reflection for social change is incredibly important for leaders; with the “critical” piece meaning, to the greatest degree possible, approaching our work through a lens of the acknowledgement of the roles power and privilege play in all aspects of the work. It also involves moving beyond acknowledgement and toward actively disrupting oppressive systems.

I had an opportunity to develop some workshops on Applied Critical Leadership that asked supervisors and folks in other leadership roles to consider two critical questions about their work:

“In what ways do my privileged identities limit my perspective?”

“In what ways can centering the experiences of those with marginalized identities enhance the environment?”

Those self-reflective questions are complemented in this talk by my colleague Chelsea Fullerton on Incorporating Intersectional Feminist Praxis into Supervision. Chelsea covers 5 tenets which include:

  • Collaborative, mutually respectful relationships
  • An awareness and examination of social context
  • A critical examination of power dynamics
  • Intentional self-examination
  • Must center a commitment to advance social change

How does critical self-reflection show up in your life and work?


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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2 Responses

  1. June 15, 2019

    […] really connected to the feminist supervision idea, which is something I hope to put into practice. When we did the identity walk-around activity […]

  2. June 17, 2020

    […] supervisors who do not approach this reality with a social justice lens place their Black staff members in an even more vulnerable position when jobs are on the line and […]

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