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What Is the Significant Gender Difference Between the Perception of Transparency and Vulnerability Among Professionals Within the African American Community?

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We looked closely at professional African American professionals who may possibly find themselves in situations that may require them to feel either vulnerability or transparency in each situation. We examined 113 professionals who participated in this qualitative research by utilizing open ended questions and distributing them via Google Forms. We used a thematic matrix to analyze participants’ responses to the questions. To understand the situation of vulnerability increasingly widespread amongst these professionals, it appeared very necessary to use an in-depth analysis of the subjective reasons surrounding these significant factors or situations. We found that there are no significant gender differences amongst participants’ perceptions of vulnerability and transparency, but differences do lie in other factors.  Most people are more concerned with possible consequences of opening to others, and therefore build a wall and share only the surface information with others. We conclude with future research and organizational implications involved with the importance of vulnerability and transparency.


According to Hoffmaster, vulnerability is defined as “being susceptible to something, a bad something naturally, such as disease or infection.” (Hoffmaster, 2006). The word vulnerability is often stereotyped towards an individual’s openness and exposure. Often, when an individual finds him or herself in a vulnerable situation, there is usually an unimpeded entrance or access either through the individual's hearts, thoughts and personal views. The most rational individuals have no reason to conceal their feelings or emotions, because such people wear their full emotions on their sleeves, and have no reason to be afraid, or in doubt. They are willing to let all go, as this act gives them utmost peace of mind and comfort.  There is a misconception behind vulnerability as it is intertwined with weakness. The common perception is that if an individual is willing to be an “open book” and display unguarded emotions and feelings, that makes them weak and susceptible to attack. Though many people attribute vulnerability to weakness, vulnerability can potentially serve as a strength. As human beings, we naturally prevent ourselves from feeling vulnerable because that is how we perceive strength.  

“Transparency can be referred to as being easily perceived.’’ (Holzner, B., & Holzner, L. 2002). According to Holzner, he states that “There is a direct correlation between transparency and vulnerability. In the sense that transparency revolves around the idea or the ability to ‘‘know or see through something’’ (Holzner, B 2002). In some cultures, this revelation is strictly frowned upon, while in some situations it can cause a deformation in possible relationships, views and beliefs. In some cases, transparency cancels any form of secrecy, even though these values offset each other. Unfortunately, in the world we live in transparency is not being effectively practiced. This is being influenced by the various refurbishments in our attitudes and what we regard as right or acceptable behaviors. The challenges that arises from individuals trying to practice transparency can be perceived in different areas of the society, whereby trust is being affected. It is important to be fully aware that trust plays a significant role of accountability for people in their lifestyles.

         This likelihood of transparency has protracted beyond personal relations and is slowly shifting towards how companies deal and share information with their consumers. For instance, in the workplace, some individuals are vulnerable enough to allow themselves to share some vital ideas and thoughts about their current relationships, however they might be slower to being transparent with deeper layers or sections in their lives. In order for such people to open up over time, there has to be some level of trust built up. Also, in the workplace if transparency is being practiced, it would generate productivity and employees would be held accountable at an equal standard. For transparency to be practiced, there has to be an existing clear and concise communication chain, which has to be thoroughly practiced.

Transparency can be a very difficult notion or idea for an organization or individual to comprehend, but it’s not impossible. For instance, for an organization to make transparency a priority, it needs to communicate the benefits to its employees and supervisors and strategize coherent ways to integrate it into the company’s culture. By doing this, the company is developing a unique and creative work culture and team members. These activities inversely encourage cohesiveness amongst all levels of management and their subordinates.  


What is the significant gender difference between the perception of transparency and vulnerability among professionals within the African American community?


Gender differences do not exist amongst African Americans in terms of their perception of transparency as it relates to vulnerability.


These articles seek to review related researches associated with this study. The underpinning themes to be discussed in this paper are the meaning and importance of transparency, and some effect of vulnerability on humans especially the female gender in different organizations and their lives holistically.

Defining Vulnerability

As aforementioned by Hoffmaster (2006) vulnerability is synonymous with susceptibility to something naturally bad, such as an infection. However, most people feel this definition of vulnerability is universal and applicable to everyone. There are many other factors and interactions that can cause an individual to be vulnerable, and it is imperative that individuals grasp a better understanding of vulnerability. (Hoffmaster, 2006).

As we speak about vulnerability, it is important to acknowledge gender and ethnicities as factors than can influence different perspectives of vulnerability, specifically amongst people of color. Racism has continuously kept its place in the lives of African Americans, whether it is in the workplace, the school system, or just in everyday life. Gender has also placed additional biases on African Americans in their personal and professional lives. However, studies show that among African American women in different walks of life such as work, and as being a general member of their community, race has a heavier impact in inducing vulnerability than gender (Wingfield, 2007). One purpose of our study is to focus on vulnerability in the professional lives of minorities. Racism in the workplace shapes the experiences minorities have within the workplace. Collins (1998) stated that affirmative action policies have shaped a barrier in between a “superior” race and the minorities. Though one of the purposes of affirmative action is to counter discriminatory practices in the workplace, non-people of color coined the term “reverse discrimination” and in return racial barriers and stereotyping continued to exist. This is an example of how African Americans are vulnerable to harm or attack by a non-natural source of harm; relating to Hoffmaster’s (2006) idea that vulnerability can come in multiple forms.



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