Managing Visibility and Invisibility in the Workplace

Managing Visibility and Invisibility in the Workplace

Call Status

Deadline for Participation


Scope of the Topic

Members of marginalized social groups (e.g., women, racial minorities, sexual minorities, low social class individuals) are more likely than members of privileged social groups to be in low status occupations (e.g., service and janitorial occupations). Even when they are in high status occupations, these individuals often face challenges at work, including discrimination, harassment, and identity-based microaggressions (Sue, 2010). As a result, members of marginalized social groups also experience unique challenges related to (in)visibility. Their group memberships increase experiences of heightened visibility (i.e., being noticed more than others because they are numerically underrepresented, Kanter, 1977) and invisibility (i.e., being noticed less than others). Individuals also engage in a variety of behaviors designed to manage their visibility to others (Simpson & Lewis, 2007), such as impression management and strategic attempts to be less visible (Lollar, 2015). Individuals may also engage a variety of strategies to mitigate the ways in which others heighten or diminish recognition of their accomplishments and contributions (Stead, 2013). Further, visibility experiences and visibility management may have important consequences for employee psychological well-being and organizational outcomes as such experiences are likely to impact their work productivity, organizational commitment, and their sense of belonging and authenticity at work (Wingfield & Wingfield, 2014).

The purpose of this special issue is to advance scholarship on the ways in which particular social identities, and particular organizational settings and contexts, render individuals visible or invisible to others and how individuals manage marginalizing experiences by engaging in behaviors and tactics to control how they are seen at work and with coworkers. Papers in this special issue may be theoretical or empirical in nature, and empirical papers can use a diversity of methodological approaches (both quantitative and qualitative research methods are welcome) and theoretical perspectives.

Examples of potential topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Theoretical papers proposing novel frameworks for understanding visibility and invisibility in the workplace

  • Invisible work (e.g., “dirty work”) and invisible workers (e.g., immigrant laborers)

  • Hypervisibility of workers in particular organizational contexts (e.g., Black women in leadership)

  • Intersectional invisibility, that is, the extent to which members of multiple marginalized social groups are invisible in particular contexts

  • Ways in which those with organizational power construct the visibility of workers and the labor that they do

  • Use of visibility, invisibility or voice in managing hostile work environments

  • Strategies employees use to heighten or limit their visibility at work

  • Impression management and disclosure of stigmatized social identities

  • Strategies organizational leaders use to increase visibility and equity of underrepresented employees

  • Employee, employer and organizational costs of employee visibility experiences and visibility management

Instructions for authors

Manuscripts are due by September 1, 2017. All manuscripts will go through a full peer review and will be evaluated using the following criteria: 

(a) responsiveness to the call, (b) potential to enhance our understanding of marginalization and (in)visibility management, (c) scientific merit, (d) likelihood of successful completion within the editorial timeline, (e) fit with other submissions, and (f) applicability to JVB’s mission.

Interested authors should submit their manuscripts online to the Journal of Vocational Behavior via Please ensure you select the correct special issue as the article type when submitting your paper.

Please refer to the Guide for Authors before submission. Questions about this special issue or potential submissions should be sent to NiCole Buchanan ( or Isis Settles ( When emailing, please place “JVB SPECIAL ISSUE" in the subject line. If desired, interested authors can submit a detailed abstract (maximum of 1000 words) for feedback on the paper’s appropriateness for this special issue by July 15, 2017. The detailed abstract is optional and submitted abstracts will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

We anticipate publishing this issue in the fourth quarter of 2018. All papers will be available online in press and citable after they are accepted until the issue is officially published.