“It's wicked hard to fight covert racism”: The case of microaggressions in science research organizations

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The intersection of race and gender discrimination has resulted in the pervasive under-representation of women of color (WOC) in science careers, with research identifying that microaggressions are a key contributory factor to the imbalance. This study aims to compare individual experiences of microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations with institutional responses, thereby outlining the disconnects between the perspectives of minoritized scientists and those in positions of power. This paper draws on a constructivist paradigm to compare the experiences of women of color scientists with organizational representatives through 31 interviews conducted in science research organizations in the United Kingdom. The results find that organizational understandings of microaggressions differ substantially from those of WOC scientists. Furthermore, organizational responses favor policy-based solutions that fail to address the slippery and deniable nature of microaggressions. The paper concludes that, contrary to the more prevalent popular diversity initiatives, a greater belief in the testimony of WOC scientists amplified by institutional responses that empower their identity as scientists would be more effective strategies to reduce the sense of shame and isolation caused by subtle forms of discrimination.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2022


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