Recently, UC Berkeley opened its doors, virtually, to the entire UC staff community for an open discussion on navigating dominant culture norms for professionalism for LGBTQ+ staff. The panel was the third event of a series focused on strategies for professional advancement for UC staff from underrepresented communities and discussed how to navigate queer identities in the professional world. The panel featured Elisa Diana Huerta, Harris Mojadedi, Liat Wexler, Melissa Charles and Vic Hosley-Sánchez, who shared their experiences and perspectives. Highlights from this vibrant discussion, which also included powerful questions and comments in the webinar chat, are provided below.
Questions addressed by the panelists
- What does queerness and professionalism mean to the panel?
- How have your identities influenced how you understand, experience and navigate professionalism?
- How have you navigated seeking advancement while honoring your boundaries and holding true to your identities?
- What is your vision for how our communities navigate, challenge, and queer professionalism?
Key insights – in their own words
1. What does queerness and professionalism mean to the panel?
- “All identities come into – and are relevant in – your professional life. Professionalism, to me, is the assumed norms and structures that impact one’s work life.”
- “Queerness is about being outside of boundaries and resisting norms.”
- “Queerness and professionalism are rooted in political resistance and how we enter spaces versus being centered around sexuality.”
2. How have your identities influenced how you understand, experience and navigate professionalism?
- “Every day is a journey of unlearning as we battle the norms that we’ve been taught to believe are true or proper.”
- “We often figure out how we will look (dress, jewelry, makeup) based on who is on our calendar that day. [Questions that come up include, “How do I show up as my true self?” and “Will I be taken seriously?”]
- “Also, it is important to [understand that] these norms change by generation. What is expected now from our more junior employees is different [from what expected in older generations of employees.”
3. How have you navigated seeking advancement while honoring your boundaries and holding true to your identities?
- “So many times, boundaries were blurred, like choosing to show up and work versus taking care of one’s own health.”
- “Having people at the top use the correct pronouns (for example) for us makes an impact for the entire community.”
- “Saying what needs to be said can lead to people feeling you are aggressive or angry.“
- “Our vocalness can cause others to be lazy and that’s amplified by being asked to be the voice with no additional support (money, time, wellbeing, etc.).”
4. What is your vision for how our communities navigate, challenge, and queer professionalism?
- “People need to always start with this question: ‘How can we be certain we are valuing queer and trans staff?”’
- “It is important to have places where we can be ourselves and be surrounded by other queer and trans folks.”
- “We need to be careful not to self-silo either. Sharing our experiences and changes can positively impact more than one group.”
- “It is important to think about structural changes (hiring, promotion, retention) in regards to queer and trans people.”
The UC IT blog news team looks forward to learning more views from the queer tech community. Please contact us any time to share your views so that we can continue this important conversation UCITBlog@ucop.edu, and/or reach out to the webinar contact or panelists, listed below.
About the Panelists
Elisa Diana Huerta (they/them/elle)
Associate Vice Chancellor, Centers for Educational Justice & Community Engagement
Harris Mojadedi (he/him)
Interim Assistant Dean of Students / Director, LEAD Center
Liat Wexler (they/them)
Prevention Manager, Faculty & Staff
UC Berkeley PATH to Care Center
Melissa Charles (she/her)
Assistant Director for African American Student Development
Vic Hosley-Sánchez (they/he)
Interim Program Director – Queer Alliance Resource Center
Em Huang (they/them)
Director, LGBTQ+ Advancement & Equity
Claudia Gey (she/her)