Our Separate Ways

Our Separate Ways builds a critical framework for executing the structural and cultural shifts that will allow all women to thrive.”

Gwyneth Paltrow, founder and CEO, goop

The boardroom-shaking book,
revised and reissued to meet our moment…

Gender equality is at a crossroads. And racial equity is top of mind. Guess what? They’re interrelated. Letting diverse talent shine within companies, without wedges between them, is now a matter of business survival. A groundbreaking work of sociology, Our Separate Ways by Ella Bell Smith and Stella Nkomo takes an unflinching look at the surprising differences between Black and white businesswomen’s trials and triumphs on their way to the top. Get the scoop on why white women in the C-suite often unintentionally align themselves with white men rather than with their Black female peers. And discover what organizations can do to leverage the talents of ALL women and create workplaces free of -isms and systemic oppression.

Now with an updated preface and epilogue to meet our global moment of racial and gender reckoning, this newly rereleased book features candid discussions of the continuing challenge of achieving race and gender equality in the midst of deep divides. Leveraging more than a decade of research, including interviews with more than 120 first-generation Black and white female managers and a national survey, Our Separate Ways brings to life the true stories of remarkable women and their harrowing journeys through more than the glass ceiling—through gender, race and class biases to power and fulfillment.

“Given our worldwide reckoning and the urgency to increase diversity in leadership, this new edition of Our Separate Ways lays out the imperative for women to build greater empathy”

– Cindy R. Pace, Vice President
Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, MetLife


“The women executives in this book tell their individual stories of trials and triumphs, but the stories taken together also tell a collective story.”
Harvard Business Review

“A must read for scholars interested in diversity, race, and gender relationships in organizations. It moves beyond stereotypes…, and it captures the mixture of patriarchy and racism that perpetuates discrimination.”
Academy of Management Review

“A well-researched and thought-provoking look at some important aspects of race and gender in corporate America.”
Publishers Weekly


“A groundbreaking account of Black and white professional women’s formation of identities, relationships, and career breakthroughs.”

Laura Morgan Roberts, Professor of Practice, University of Virginia Darden School of Business; coeditor, Race, Work, and Leadership

“A stark look at the corporate world through the lens of race and gender equity. This book should be on the desk of not only every CEO and HR manager but anyone wanting to build a successful workplace.”

Mika Brzezinski, cohost, “Morning Joe”; founder, Know Your Value

“Our Separate Ways changed my life two decades ago, and it will change yours. Ella Bell Smith and Stella M. Nkomo have long given us permission to build a shared vision for change and the real practices and policies necessary to create workplaces that are free of gendered systemic racism.”

Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer, VICE Media Group