Welcome our Newest Joint Faculty

Contributed by Lorena Solis.

A Path to Social Justice

I am an assistant professor of industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology at the Department of Psychology and a core faculty member at El Instituto. My research focuses on understanding the manifestation of inequality in organizations and institutions. Specifically, I study inequality within the context of workforce diversity. I aim to produce research that brings awareness to the mechanisms that lead to the experience of marginalization for all women of color. I approach this work by incorporating three pillars: curiosity, inner work, and imagination.

Lorena Solis 2017 Graduation Photo
2017 Graduation from CUNY Brooklyn College Master’s Program in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

Curiosity. My identities have been the most significant sources of knowledge in my personal and professional development. As a Mexican-American woman from a low-income household, I have been navigating systems of oppression that impact my reality in higher education. However, Black Feminist and Decolonial literature gave me the tools and resources to fight for my freedom from narratives of oppression. As I immersed myself in this literature, I began to experience curiosity about social justice. This curiosity allows me to critically evaluate the world and the conditions perpetuating oppression for people of color.

Inner Work. My introduction to Black feminist and Indigenous resistance also helped me view my experience with marginalization as a source of resistance. Take, for example, the beautiful words from Audre Lorde in her work, Black Feminist Thought in the Matrix of Domination,

“Offering subordinate groups new knowledge about their own experiences can be empowering. But revealing new ways of knowing that allow subordinate groups to define their own reality has far greater implications.”

For me, studying workforce diversity and incorporating Black Feminism and Indigenous resistance is an opportunity to 1) reconnect with my motherland, 2) understand the complexities of the Latino/a/x Identity, and 3) undue my internalized oppression that is very much rooted in colonization. Further, my self-awareness allows me to critically reflect on how I study and reproduce knowledge concerning groups that have been historically excluded from positions of leadership and power.

Imagination. I am excited to begin my career journey at the University of Connecticut. I will teach courses in psychology and Latinx studies. I plan to continue my research on workplace diversity. I have launched my research lab at UConn Hartford, The Resisting Inequality in Society (RIS) Lab. The work that my students and I will conduct is rooted in radical imagination. Imagination is vital in the abolition of systems of oppression. In my lab, we center the work of Black and Brown scholars who have provided us with theoretical and practical tools to challenge the status quo. We will use these tools to understand how women of color are navigating systems of oppression in organizations and institutions. In addition to examining the mechanisms that contribute to oppression, our lab will also investigate how women of color find ways to act (e.g., use voice behavior, advocacy, and expertise) against systems of injustice. Our mission is to center and amplify the stories of individuals experiencing marginalization due to their identities.