The Glass Hospital
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work
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This paper considers how the COVID-19 pandemic altered health care workers (HCWs) and their experiences with workplace discrimination. This research combines theories using glass as a metaphor (such as the glass escalator, the glass ceiling, glass cliffs, and glass cages) with intersectionality and microaggressions to describe the notion of a glass hospital (Cotter et al. 2001; Frye 1983; Gabriel 2016; Hill 2019; Kalev 2009; Pierce 1970; Ryan and Haslam 2005). The glass hospital represents HCWs' concerns with workplace discrimination issues. The stories of the glass hospital represent locations where various HCWs are found, from the glass basement reserved for marginalized HCWs, up to the glass penthouse, limited to predominantly white, cis-normative HCWs. Discrimination and microaggressions ensure around-the-clock staffing by determining who works in the glass basement versus other stories of the glass hospital. For this qualitative study, I conducted interviews with 21 HCWs from across the United States. Their responses revealed the impacts of COVID-19 on discrimination in healthcare. Research subjects describe the growth of traveling HCWs, defined as Traveling Independent Contractors (TICs) in this paper, and acts of discrimination.