Tomerial Brooks


The Concrete Ceiling :The Effects of Gendered Racism and Black Women's Career Mobility


Black women have the highest workforce participation compared to other women in the United States and more likely to earn college degrees. Yet, they are denied training, promotion, and advancement at higher rates compared to their counterparts. A significant amount of the research about Black women’s career mobility suggests the trajectory for Black women is blocked. The reasons for these discrepancies are necessary and is examined throughout this presentation. The unique barriers Black women often experience in their efforts toward upward career mobility consisting of stereotypes, gendered racism, microaggressions, lack of mentorship, and lack of organizational support are addressed. Historical background related to Black women’s participation in the workforce are considered in providing a framework in understanding the present-day implications regarding these unique barriers. The research suggests organizations and the U.S. economy at large are negatively impacted when Black women face a concrete wall in their efforts at upward career mobility. The micro, mezzo, and macro effects of this problem are important underscoring the significance of this problem. Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Intersectionality Theory (IT) are utilized as the theoretical frameworks applied to this phenomenon and discussed in this presentation. The unique career barriers experienced by Black women demands the need for effective, outcome- measured, targeted, and non-performative DEIB interventions. Recommendations and suggestions designed to reduce and eliminate their unique career barriers within organizations and policy are presented.


Tomerial Brooks is an LCSW and Doctoral Social Work student at the University of Kentucky. She obtained her Master of Social Work degree from Indiana- Purdue University in 2002, graduated from Anderson University in 2006 with a Master’s in Business Administration, and graduated from Anderson University in 1996 earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Ms. Brooks received her Certification in Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Kentucky in 2021.
In her role as the Associate Director of TRACS (Triage, Referral, and Crisis Support), at the University of Kentucky, Ms. Brooks works with students across campus in supporting their mental health needs. Since 2018, she has worked as a private practice mental health provider and serves as a Board Member with the KY Society of Clinical Social Workers.

Ms. Brooks’ research interests are focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives and social justice issues. Her capstone project addresses the effects of Black women’s intersecting marginalized identities, and unique barriers impeding their career mobility efforts. She is interested in addressing systemic and institutional racism within organizations contributing to these phenomena.