By Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

Discriminatory actions and comments are often clear and apparent. But it’s also important to address the seemingly smaller, daily instances of comments that showcase biases known as microaggressions. 

Kevin Nadal, a psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, defines microaggressions as “the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.” 

While microaggressions may seem harmless, research shows that repeated instances can have consequences such as decreases in mental health and confidence, the perpetuation of stereotypes and the creation of hostile work environments. 

The following are select instances of microaggressions that respondents detailed in the 2021 Fearless survey on women’s and gender issues

  • “Do you plan to come back to work after you have your baby?” 
  • “You’re pretty smart for a girl.” 
  • Having people ask, “How was your vacation?” when returning from maternity leave. 
  • Hearing managers refer to a group of assistants as “my girls.” 
  • Hearing a male manager say, “Don’t hire her, she’s just going to go get pregnant and be gone.” 
  • Hearing male managers assume that getting married means you no longer want to travel. 
  • “You’re too assertive.” 
  • “You’re getting married? There goes another good journalist out of the newsroom.” 
  • “I assumed you were from another country because of your name.” 
  • “Where are you really from?” 
  • “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” 
  • “Oh, you were coming in to ask for a promotion? I thought you were going to announce that you were pregnant again.” 
  • “You should smile more!” 
  • “You girls are doing a great job!”
  • “You probably don’t care about this, but …” 
  • Always being the default secretary or grabbing coffee for people. 
  • “You don’t look gay.” 
  • “It must be that time of the month!” 
  • “No one wants to hear from ‘mom.’”
  • Being patted on the head. 
  • Being called “kiddo,” “sweetie,” “honey” or “darling.” 
  • “You girls don’t get it.” 
  • Addressing everyone as “guys.” 
  • “Don’t be so sensitive.” 

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