Is it a privilege to be a hybrid professional?

Sarabeth Berk, Ph.D.
3 min readJun 4, 2020

You may not know it, but when I embarked on this research journey, the concept of hybrid professionals was inspired by diversity studies on race, class, and gender. Specifically, I learned about intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, and thought to myself, “Huh, could this be applied to the strand of identity we consider our professional identity? If we have multiple identities at work, then is there intersectionality among them?” And through my research, I validated that there is.

Intersectionality argues that you can’t separate a person into parts. You have to look at how race, class, and gender (and a host of other identities) interconnect to form the entire picture of a person’s lived experience. This concept was revolutionary to me at first, and then obvious once I saw it.

When considering intersectionality, the matrix of oppression also becomes important. This is a tool, literally a matrix, that shows that a person may be privileged in certain identities and oppressed in others. This means people experience both privilege and oppression simultaneously. As a white female, I experience privilege for my whiteness and oppression as a woman. Look at the images in this post on intersectional oppression to get a better sense of the multitude of ways this can be expressed.

Another key concept that informed my research on hybrid professionals was Homi Bhabha’s work on hybridity, hybrid culture, and colonization. Hybridity essentially means mixture, and Bhabha writes about colonizers and the colonized. When these two elements come together, a transcultural space is formed. There’s a new cultural identity in this in-between space. The impact is an exchange on both parties and cultural differences can become “whitewashed” or ignored even though they exist.

There’s a lot more to Bhabha’s work then that, but where I’m going with this is to show you how important diversity and cultural studies were to my research as well as share how scholars discuss identity and what we need to think about in conjunction with institutional racism and oppression.

So that brings me to my question, is it a privilege to be a hybrid professional? Is that a luxury only certain workers enjoy, or is it really accessible for all?

My short answer is, I’m not sure. I want to believe that anyone can be a hybrid professional if they choose to be, but I’m also aware that my personal bias and blindness probably holds me back from seeing the full truth. I know hybrid professionals of many races, backgrounds, and disciplines. However, I haven’t thought about this question deeply in my research until now. This is a new element I need to investigate, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Confronting my white privilege as a researcher means asking myself new and harder questions that I haven’t considered before. It’s a certainty that I bring unconscious bias into my speaking, writing, and research on hybrid professionals. Waking up to my privilege means I need to continuously reflect on my identity and lived experiences, ask questions I’ve been afraid or even unaware to ask myself regarding my own life and this research, and actively participate in changing systemic oppression.

If you have anything you’d like to share or add, I’m listening. Please send me a note or post a comment.

(originally posted on



Sarabeth Berk, Ph.D.

Creative Disruptor I Innovation Strategist I Systems Builder #MoreThanMyTitle #HybridProfessional