Kamala Harris could be the first woman of color VP, and the challenges ahead of her resonate with BIPOC women leaders across the country
Sign up here to receive our newsletter Gender at Work in your inbox twice a month. Last week, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. Harris is a US senator from California who ran for president as a Democrat earlier in this cycle. Before she was elected to the Senate, she was the attorney general of California and the San Francisco district attorney. Harris' parents immigrated to the US from Jamaica and India and Harris graduated from a historically Black university. If Biden is elected in November, Harris would be the first woman and the first woman of color in the vice presidency. (She would not, however, be the first woman of color to run for vice president. Charlotta Bass, a Black woman from California, ran on the Progressive Party ticket in 1952.) Harris would also be one of a small number of women of color in any leadership role in US society. To date, just 26 of 100 US senators are women. In corporate America, 4% of C-suite executives are women of color. If Harris and Biden win, it would be a huge milestone for women across the US, and in particular for BIPOC women. (BIPOC stands for "Black, indigenous, and people of color.") Harris' name on the ballot — independent of her specific political platform — suggests that BIPOC women's career ambitions are within reach. Meanwhile, Biden, who is 77 years old, has suggested that he might not run for a second term if elected. An adviser to Biden's campaign told Politico that Biden is thinking, "I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years, but if that's not possible or doesn't happen then I'll run for reelection." There's a lot of pressure on Harris to succeed. Welcome to Gender at Work. This is a twice-monthly newsletter that takes an expansive look at how your gender identity informs your career. Last week we covered Biden's plan to invest $775 billion in caregiving programs. This week we're talking about the implications of Harris' spot on the Democratic ticket. 'Double jeopardy' BIPOC women are underrepresented in leadership roles. Eighteen states have never sent a woman to the Senate and only one governor – Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico – is a woman of color. And while BIPOC women represent around 37% of working-age women, they make up less than 5% of senior-level management positions and less than 1% of CEOs of S&P companies, according to research from the nonprofit organization Catalyst. So when a woman of color does reach a position of power, the spotlight is on them. Their performance is scrutinized in a way that it isn't necessarily for white men. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that Black women leaders may experience "double jeopardy." When they fail or when their organization does, Black women are judged negatively based on their two minority identities. "Given that atypical leaders, in general, are often expected to fail and are frequently evaluated more negatively when they make mistakes," the authors write, "Black women may have to be exceptionally diligent when managing subpar outcomes." 'The glass cliff' And then there's the "glass cliff." A sister of the glass ceiling, as our colleague Marguerite Ward reported, the glass cliff describes what happens when women or people of color are promoted to senior leadership during difficult times for an organization and the risk of failure is high. Like, say, a global pandemic and recession. Michelle Ryan at the University of Exeter told Ward that it's unclear why women and people of color are often given leadership roles during crisis periods. But a potential consequence is that people feel their assumptions are validated: Maybe women of color aren't equipped to be leaders after all. "We might find that these women don't last as long in these positions or that they may be highly criticized because there's a lot going on," Ryan told Ward. "And that potentially reinforces the stereotype that women [and people of color] aren't good at leadership." Longstanding biases against minorities As VP, Harris could face the same challenges that other BIPOC women encounter when they ascend to leadership positions. Women are often subject to implicit bias in the business world, or the unconscious assumptions people make about others based on their gender, ethnicity, age, or minority status, rather than their actual qualifications. And those biases can be heightened when it comes to BIPOC women. Harris has said those biases no longer faze her. She told The New Yorker in 2019, "I'm not carefully enough watching — and I probably should — how men are being treated compared to me." "I've had this experience so many times that I don't let it distract me," she said on running for office as a woman of color when most candidates aren't. When a reporter asked Harris in January 2019 how she described her racial identity ("You're an African American woman, but you are also Indian American"), Harris replied, "I describe myself as an American." Within a week of her nomination, Harris fielded false accusations of ineligibility to serve as president because her parents were immigrants; racial slurs from a Virginia mayor likening the California senator to "Aunt Jemima;" and names like "mad woman," "nasty," "condescending," and "angry" from President Trump. Harris' experiences of bigoted treatment are, unfortunately, unsurprising. Assertive and successful women are much more likely to be perceived as "bossy" and unlikeable than their male counterparts at work, our colleague Weng Cheong reported. A model for BIPOC women In spite of the challenges that Harris might encounter, her presence in the White House — and even on the ballot — could fundamentally change the way young women think about leadership. The New York Times reported on a study from the Girl's Leadership Institute that found that 48% of Black girls surveyed identified as leaders, the highest among all ethnic groups. The presence of strong role models seemed to be one of the most important factors contributing to their leader aspirations. "I'm having a Shirley Chisholm moment," LaTosha Brown, cofounder of Black Voters Matter Fund, told The Washington Post, referring to the first Black woman elected to Congress. Regarding Harris, Brown said, "There are so many women — Black women — who were never considered. It's not just her candidacy, but all that it represents." Harris' election could pave the way for millions of BIPOC women who strive to lead in the US, whether in the office — or the highest office in the land. We invite women of color to share your thoughts about Harris' spot on the ballot. In the meantime, please share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here. We're also interested to know: Are there specific leaders or themes we should spotlight in this newsletter? Send suggestions to SLebowitz@BusinessInsider.com. We're excited to read them.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Epidemiologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
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Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris comes from a family of lawyers and Stanford graduates. Meet the family.
Summary List PlacementKamala Harris' representatives did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment on...Summary List PlacementKamala Harris' representatives did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment on this article.SEE ALSO: Meet Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's pick for vice president DON'T MISS: Kamala Harris' niece wants to inspire the next generation of social activists On August 11, Joe Biden announced he had picked Kamala Harris as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election. Kamala Harris, 55, is a Democratic senator from California who serves on the Senate Judiciary, Intelligence, Security and Governmental Affairs, and Budget Committees. Prior to joining the Senate, she served as the District Attorney of San Francisco and the Attorney General of California between 2004 and 2017. During her time at the Senate, Harris has won praise for her famously fiery line of questioning during hearings. Prominent figures like Attorney General Bill Barr and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have found themselves at the other end of her prosecutorial questions. Harris launched her own bid for President in 2019 before ending her campaign in December due to a lack of sufficient funding. Harris and her younger sister Maya were raised by their late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris. Instagram Embed: //instagram.com/p/Bud5D29DgF6/embed Width: 540px When news broke that Joe Biden had picked Harris as his running mate for the 2020 election, Maya shared a moving tweet of Harris talking about their late mother. "You can't know who @KamalaHarris is without knowing who our mother was. Missing her terribly, but know she and the ancestors are smiling today," she wrote. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, the daughter of an Indian diplomat, moved to the US from India in the 60s to attend the University of California, Berkeley, to study nutrition and endocrinology. Gopalan Harris spent her career in cancer research and worked at a number of different institutions, including McGill University and the University of Illinois. Per Forbes, some of her most important work was in breast cancer research. She died of colon cancer in 2009 a few months after she turned 70. "One of the last questions she asked the hospice nurse was, 'Are my daughters going to be O.K.?' She was focused on being our mother until the very end," Harris wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "There was never a question that they were Indian. I don't think she felt conflicted about it. She told the girls, 'You are Indian; you are [B]lack. You don't have to prove that you're one or the other,'" a family relative told the Los Angeles Times. Donald Harris, Harris' father, was a professor of economics at Stanford University for over two decades before retiring in 1998. Donald Harris was born and raised in Jamaica and moved to the US in the 1960s to study economics at the University of California, Berkeley. There, he met Harris' mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, during campus protests. Gopalan Harris and Donald separated when Harris was 5 and divorced when she was 7. Casey Tolan wrote for Mercury News that Harris' mother had primary custody over her two daughters. The girls saw their father during vacations. Tolan describes Donald as a "retired leftist Stanford economics professor from Jamaica who studied issues such as income inequality." The report also references a 1976 op-ed in the university paper that describes him as "too charismatic" and "a pied piper" to his students. Per his Stanford page, Donald has worked extensively on the economy of Jamaica and has acted as a consultant to the country's government. He is a naturalized US citizen. In a February 2019 appearance on the radio show The Breakfast Club, show host Charlamagne tha God asked Harris if she opposed marijuana legalization to which she responded, "Half my family's from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?" In response to her answer, Donald published a comment in Jamaica Global Online saying, "My dear departed grandmothers (whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family's name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics." Harris has been married to lawyer Douglas Emhoff since 2014. Emhoff, a partner at DLA Piper, works in business, real estate, and intellectual-property law representing both companies and individuals. The couple met on a blind date and live in Los Angeles. The Wall Street Journal reported that the couple lives in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles and owns homes in San Francisco and Washington DC. Zillow and WSJ estimates place the cumulative value of the properties at $8 million. Through Emhoff, Harris has two stepchildren — Cole and Ella, both in their 20s, who call her "momala." Cole graduated from Colorado College in 2017, according to O Magazine; Ella is studying apparel and textiles at New York City's Parsons School of Design. Harris' younger sister, Maya, is a lawyer. Maya, who is younger than Harris by two years, has been a near-constant source of support for her older sister. She's cheered Harris on both online and in numerous campaign rallies since Harris first announced she was running for president. Christopher Cadelago wrote for Politico in 2019 that "political types" view Maya as Harris' Bobby Kennedy. And 2020 isn't the first go-around for Maya in a presidential election — she was a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton in 2016. She has also been involved with the Ford Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union in leadership roles, Yahoo News reported. She edited the 2010 book "The New Jim Crow" and has worked as an analyst for MSNBC. Maya shared that she has the auto-immune disease Lupus in an essay for The Atlantic, where she shared her personal experience of living with the disease and criticized President Trump for touting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19. Maya is married to Tony West. He's currently the chief legal officer at Uber. Maya and West met at Stanford University in the late 1980s, although they didn't start a relationship until after graduation. Between 2009 and 2014, West served as assistant attorney general and associate attorney general at the civil division of the Obama administration's Justice Department. In 2014, he joined PepsiCo's general counsel. According to West's twitter profile, the couple lives in San Francisco, California. Maya's daughter, Meena, is a Harvard and Stanford graduate. She started the clothing line "Phenomenal Woman" in 2017. Business Insider's Dominic-Madori Davis previously reported that the goal of the clothing line, the name of which is inspired by Maya Angelou's iconic poem, is to highlight social justice causes. The project began shortly after President Trump's 2017 inauguration with the release of t-shirts that had the words "phenomenal woman" plastered across the front. Meena, 35, published a book earlier this year titled "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea," based on a true story about Kamala and Maya building a play area for other children. According to her LinkedIn page, she has worked for tech companies including Slack, Uber, and Facebook, as well as for her aunt over in the years in various capacities. Meena is married to Nikolas Ajagu and they have two young daughters, ages four and two. Ajagu is currently the global head of advertising technology at Facebook, where Meena worked in the mid-2000s.
Biden: ‘Every governor should mandate mandatory masks’Yang and Bloomberg to speak at virtual Democratic conventionBiden campaign...Biden: ‘Every governor should mandate mandatory masks’Yang and Bloomberg to speak at virtual Democratic conventionBiden campaign gets $26m boost in donations after Harris pickHighest daily Covid-19 deaths recorded in US since mid-MayUS unemployment claims dip below 1m for first time in 20 weeksPostal service changes pose threat to voting, says ex-USPS deputySign up to our First Thing newsletter 12.37am BST From Lauren Gambinoin Wilmington and Enjoli Liston in New York: China Cochran met Kamala Harris at a campaign event in Detroit last year and was swept away by the California senator’s ambition, charisma and leadership. Related: ‘It sends a strong signal’: Black voters respond to Kamala Harris’ nomination 12.12am BST Just hours after Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate, in her home state of California fierce speculation had already begun as to who might replace her in the Senate if she wins a spot in the White House. Related: If Kamala Harris wins, who might fill her California Senate seat? Continue reading...
Choice of California senator follows months-long search Harris is first Black woman and first Asian American...Choice of California senator follows months-long search Harris is first Black woman and first Asian American on a major party’s presidential ticketHarris named as Biden’s running mate – live VP pick updatesJoe Biden has named California senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate, a historic choice he believes will bolster his chances of beating Donald Trump in an election year shaped by the global coronavirus pandemic and a national reckoning on race.Harris – Biden’s former Democratic presidential rival and a barrier-breaking former prosecutor – is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India and is the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated for a major party’s presidential ticket. Continue reading...