Everyone has pressure to perform and fit in at work; name any demographic and they will say it is tougher for them than it is for others. Is it equally hard for everyone and are some groups making it even harder on themselves?

Sociologists Marlese Durr of Wright State University and her co-author Adia Harvey Wingfield of Georgia State University at the the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) say it is tougher for black women professionals than white women, lesbian women, all men, Hispanics, Latinos, Asians and even the French in America because black professionals engage in two types of "emotional performance" in the workplace that they say others do not: General etiquette and 'racialized' emotion maintenance.

And black women professionals place even more pressure on themselves, they state. Whether it's stressful, inauthentic or downright draining, Durr claims that emotional labor is "a crucial part of black women's self-presentation in work and social public spaces." These efforts to fit in can, in effect, make African American women feel isolated, alienated, and frustrated.

"Our analysis of these aspects of workplace behavior reveals that women and men co-mingle etiquette and emotion maintenance to be accepted in the workplace and to fit white expectations," said Durr. "This emotional overtime in the workplace strengthens race/ethnic group solidarity."

Durr and Wingfield illustrate emotional labor as performance with a quote from an African American woman who says of her workplace peers, "They…are careful to remember…'that's not professional. Remember they got the s[hit] that'll get you bit! Keep your Negro in check! Don't let it jump up and show anger, disapproval, or difference of opinion. They have to like you and think that you are as close to them as possible in thought, ideas, dress and behavior.'"

Yes, that is apparently a science data point.

Marlese Durr, PhD, is an associate professor of sociology at Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio, where she has taught for 14 years. Durr's research focuses on the area of organizations, work and occupations and race and gender and is the author of The New Politics of Race: From Du Bois to the 21st Century (Praeger Press, 2002) and Work and Family, African Americans in the Lives of African Americans with Shirley A. Hill (Rowman & Litttlefield, 2006).

Adia Harvey Wingfield is assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where she has taught for two years. Her research focuses on the ways race, gender and class intersect to affect various groups in different occupations and workplaces. She received her PhD in 2004 from The Johns Hopkins University, and is the author of Doing Business with Beauty: Black Women, Hair Salons, and the Racial Enclave Economy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), a study of working-class black women entrepreneurs.

The paper, "Keep Your 'N' In Check: African American Women and the Interactive Effects of Etiquette and Emotional Labor," was presented on Sunday, Aug. 3, at 2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Boston at the American Sociological Association's 103rd annual meeting.