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Subtle Discrimination


Subtle Discrimination

There are a broad range of subtle behaviors and events that perpetuate inequities for members of underrepresented groups in post-secondary education.  These behaviors are non-actionable, practically speaking, in the sense that they are not likely to be formally contested in a court of law.

Condescension:  the apparent refusal to take women and minorities seriously, as students and colleagues, which is communicated through posture, gesture, and tone of voice.

Role stereotyping:  the expectation of behavior that conforms to the racial and sexual role stereotypes.

Sexist and racist comments:  expressions of derogatory beliefs about women or minorities such as statements of “inferiority,” “not intelligent,” and “ not serious.”

Hostility:  avoidance, expressions of annoyance, resentment, anger, jokes, and innuendoes.

Exclusion:  unintentional and intentional oversights denying minorities or women access to events.

Denial of status authority:  the covert refusal to acknowledge a minority’s or woman’s position or their scope of authority (e.g., bypassing the individual and going to their supervisor).

Invisibility:  the failure to recognize the presence or contributions of minorities and women.

Double standard:  differential evaluation of behavior as a function of racial or sex attribution (e.g., regarding a man’s non-academic experience as “enriching” and that of a woman as indicating a “lack of focus.”

Tokenism:  the discretionary inclusion of one or few minorities or women.

Divide and conquer:  the use of tactics that maximize the social distance of the minority or woman from each other (e.g., informing the individual that s/he is superior to others of the protected class in ability or achievement).

Backlash:  the rejection of men and women who support efforts to improve the status of women and minorities.