Microaggressions are small, often unintentional actions that can make others feel out of place. Examples can include asking where someone is from, acting surprised when someone doesn’t know something, or always expecting women to do office-keeping work. They can make people feel like they don’t belong and distract them from doing their actual jobs. “Micro”-aggressions might not sound so bad, but over time and many interactions they create an unwelcoming environment that can cause employees to leave or cause people to not want to attend events. As an example, a friend of mine almost swore off of all tech events after she went to a social event where everyone ignored her and talked to her lawyer husband instead.
It’s everyone’s job to make sure they’re actively creating a environment in which everyone feels that they fully belong. You can help by learning more about microaggressions and doing your best to avoid committing them (they hurt even when you don’t mean them to).
Here are a couple of good links that describe what migroaggressions are and the affect they have:
- What are Microaggressions? (the lone comment on this post is also a great example of how not to respond to this discussion)
- Stop Acting So Surprised: How Microaggressions Enforce Stereotypes in Tech
This post does a great job explaining how microagressions affect your life:
The Recurse Center’s social rules are very useful for helping you avoid committing microaggressions:
Note: This is based on a series of posts I’ve been putting together at work to educate coworkers on diversity and inclusion topics.