Microaggressive Hierarchical Intersectionalities
Small Stories of Women of Color in Higher Education
Keywords:campus climate, intersectionality, equity, diversity, cultural competence, higher education, race, gender, microaggressions, institutional development
This article uses methods from narrative analysis to consider how the macro-level experiences of racism and sexism appear in micro-level small stories about hierarchical microaggressive intersectionalities (HMI) in higher education. Small stories shared by university faculty and administrators reveal that microaggressions were simultaneously experienced along the lines of race, gender and role in the institution. Themes emerge that link deprofessionalization, invisibility, and fatigue to these small stories. On a nuanced level, the narratives in this paper demonstrate how broader societal notions of women’s and women of color’s roles in institutions translate into a negative campus climate for those who experience HMI.
Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and diversity in institutional life. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
Alabi, J. (2014). Racial microaggressions in academic libraries: Results of a survey of minority and non-minority librarians. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41, 47-53. doi: 0.1016/j.acalib.2014.10.008
Bamberg, M. & Georgakopoulou, A. (2008). Small stories as a new perspective in narrative and identity analysis. Text & Talk, 28, 377-396. https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2008.018
Basford, T. E., Offermann, L. R., & Behrend, T. S. (2013). Do you see what I see? Perceptions of gender microaggression in the workplace. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38(3), 340–349. doi:10.1177/0361684313511420
Boysen, G. A. (2012). Teacher and student perceptions of microaggression in college classrooms. College Teaching, 60, 122-129. doi: 10.1080/87567555.2012.654831
Carter-Sowell, A. R. & Zimmerman, C. A. (2015). Hidden in plain sight: Locating, validating, and advocating the stigma experiences of women of color. Sex Roles, 73(9), 399-407. doi: 10.1007/s11199-015-0529-2.
Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Christensen-Mandel, E. M., (2019). Rankism in higher education: A critical inquiry of staff experiences. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Denver]. ProQuest Dissertation Publishing.
Cho, S. K. (1997). Converging stereotypes in racialized sexual harassment. Journal of Gender, Race, & Justice, 1(1), 177–211.
Cokley, K., Smith, L., Bernard, D., Hurst, A., Jackson, S., Stone, S., & Roberts, D. (2017). Impostor feelings as a moderator and mediator of the relationship between perceived discrimination and mental health among racial/ethnic minority college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(2), 141-154. doi 10.1037/cou0000198
Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Constantine, M. G., Smith, L., Redington, R. M., Owens, D. (2008). Racial microaggressions against Black counseling and counseling psychology faculty: A central challenge in the multicultural counseling movement. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 348-355. doi https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2008.tb00519.x
Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum.
Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241-1299.
Crenshaw, K. (September 24, 2015). Why intersectionality can’t wait. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2015/09/24/why-intersectionality-cant-wait/
Delgado Bernal, D. & Villalpando, O. (2002). An apartheid of knowledge in academia: The struggle over the “legitimate” knowledge of faculty of color. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2), 169–180. https://doi.org/10.1080/713845282
Dey, E. L. & Associates. (2010). Engaging diverse viewpoints: What is the campus climate for perspective-taking? [Report]. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/core_commitments/documents/Engaging_Diverse_Viewpoints.pdf
Dill, B. T. (2009). Intersections, identities, and inequalities in higher education. In B. T. Dill & R. E. Zambrana (Eds.), Emerging intersections: Race, class, and gender in theory, policy, and practice (pp. 229–252). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Dyer, J., & Keller-Cohen, D. (2000). The discursive construction of professional self through narratives of personal experience. Discourse Studies, 2(3), 283–304. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445600002003002
Fairclough, N. (1993). Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Discourse & Society, 4, 133–168. doi 10.1177/0957926593004002002
Fairclough, N. (2013). Critical discourse analysis and critical policy studies. Critical Policy Studies, (7)2, 177-197. https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2013.798239
Ford, K. A. (2011). Race, gender, and bodily (mis)recognitions: Women of color faculty experiences with white students in the college classroom. The Journal of Higher Education, 82(4), 444-478. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-014-0275-8
Fuller, R. W. (2003). Somebodies and nobodies: Overcoming the abuse of rank. British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.
Garvey, J. C., & Drezner, N. D. (2013). Advancement staff and alumni advocates: Cultivating LGBTQ alumni by promoting individual and community uplift. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 6, 199-218. doi: 10.1037/a0033452
Gee, J. P. (2000-2001). Identity as an analytic lens for research in education. Review of Research in Education, 25, 99-125. https://doi.org/10.3102/0091732x025001099
Georgakopoulou, A. (2008). Reflection and self-disclosure from the small stories perspective: A study of identity claims in interview and conversational data. In D. Schiffrin, A. De Fina, & A. Nylund (Eds.), Telling stories: Language, narrative, and social life (pp. 123-134). Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Gilmore, A. D. (2003). It is better to speak. In A. K. Wing (Ed.), Critical race feminism: A reader (2nd ed., pp. 114–119). New York: New York University Press.
Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. (1976). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.
Gover, M. R. (2003). The narrative emergence of identity. Retrieved from https://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~goguen/courses/275f00/gover-narr.html
Griffin, K. A., & Reddick, R. J. (2011). Surveillance and sacrifice: Gender differences in the mentoring patterns of Black professors at predominantly white research universities. American Educational Research Journal, 48(5), 1032-1057. doi:10.2307/41306377
Gurney, L. J. & Grossi, V. (2019). Performing support in higher education: Negotiating conflicting agendas in academic language and learning advisory work. Higher Education Research & Development, 38, 940–953. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2019.1609916
Gutiérrez y Muhs, G., Flores Niemann, Y., González, C. G., Harris, A. P., & Gonzalez, C. G. (2012). Presumed incompetent: The intersections of race and class for women in academia. St. Lake City: Utah State University Press
Hassouneh, D., Akeroyd, J., Lutz, K. F., & Beckett, A. (2012). Exclusion and control: Patterns aimed at limiting the influence of faculty of color. Journal of Nursing Education, 51, 314 –325. doi:10.3928/01484834-20120323-04
Hardy, C., Harley, B., & Phillips, N. (2004). Discourse analysis and content analysis: Two solitudes?. Qualitative Methods, 2, 19-22. http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.998649
Harlow, R. (2003). “Race doesn’t matter but…”: The effect of race on professors’ experiences and emotion management in the undergraduate college classroom. Social Psychology Quarterly, 66(4), 348–363. https://doi.org/10.2307/1519834
Hill, M. (1994). `They are not our brothers’: The disability movement & the black disability movement. In N. Begum, M. Hill, & A. Stevens (Eds.), Reflections: The views of Black disabled people on their lives and community care. London: CCETSW.
Hirt, J. B. (2006). What do we really know about student affairs work? Where you work matters: Student affairs administration at different types of institutions (pp. 1-17). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Holling, M. A. (2019). “You intimidate me” as a microaggressive controlling image to discipline womyn of color faculty. Southern Communication Journal, 84(2), 99-112. doi: 10.1080/1041794X.2018.1511748
Hurtado, S., & Carter, D. F. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial climate on Latino students' sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70, 324–345. doi:10.2307/2673270
Hurtado, S., Arellano, L., Griffin, K. A., & Cuellar, M. (2008). Assessing the value of climate assessments: Progress and future directions. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(4), 204-221. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014009
Ingram, P. D. (2006). Commentary: The ups and downs of the workplace. Journal of Extension, 44. Retrieved from http://www.joe.org/joe/2006june/comm1.php
Janks, H. (1997). Critical discourse analysis as a research tool. Discourse, 18, 329–342. 10.1080/0159630970180302
Jean-Marie, G., & Lloyd-Jones, B. (Eds.). (2011). Women of color in higher education: Changing directions and new perspectives. Bingly, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.
Jones, S. R. (1997). Voices of identity and difference: A qualitative exploration of the multiple dimensions of identity development in women college students. Journal of College Student Development, 38, 376–386.
Jones, S. R., Kim, J. C., & Skendall, K. C. (2012). (Re-)framing authenticity: Considering multiple social identities using autoethnographic and intersectional approaches. Journal of Higher Education, 83, 698–724. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2012.11777263
Jones, T. B., Wilder, J. A., & Osborne-Lapkin, L. (2015). Beyond sisterhood: Using shared identities to build peer mentor networks and secure social capital in the academy. In B. L. H. Merina (Ed.), Mentoring away the glass ceiling in academia: A cultured critique (pp. 143-159). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Kelan, E. K. (2009). Gender fatigue: The ideological dilemma of gender neutrality and discrimination in organizations. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, 26, 197–210. doi: 10.1002/cjas.106
Lewis, J., Mendenhall, R., Harwood, S., Huntt, M. B. (2013). Coping with gendered racial microaggressions among Black women college students. Journal of African American Studies, 17, 51–73. doi:10.1007/s12111-012-9219-0
Liebow, E. (2002). Tally’s corner: A study of street corner men. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Lilienfeld, S. O. (2017). Microaggressions: Strong claims, inadequate evidence. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(1),138–169. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691616659391
Lutz, K. F., Hassouneh, D., Akeroyd, J., & Beckett, A. K. (2013). Balancing survival and resistance: Experiences of faculty of color in predominantly Euro American schools of nursing. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 6(2), 127-146. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0032364
Mahtani (2004). Mapping race and gender in the academy: The experiences of women of colour faculty and graduate students in Britain, the US and Canada. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 28(1), 91-99. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309826042000198666
McClure, E., & Rini R. (2020). Microaggression: Conceptual and scientific issues. Philosophy Compass, 15, e12659 https://doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12659
McGee, E. O., & Kazembe, L. (2015): Entertainers or education researchers? The challenges associated with presenting while black. Race Ethnicity and Education, 19(1), 96-120. doi: 10.1080/13613324.2015.1069263
Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Meyer, B. (2002). Extraordinary stories: Disability, queerness and feminism. NORA, 3, 168-73.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Montoya, M. E. (2003). Máscaras, Trenzas, y Grenas: Un/masking the self while un/braiding Latina stories and legal discourse. In A. K. Wing (Ed.), Critical race feminism: A reader 2nd ed. (pp. 70–77). New York: New York University Press.
Nadal, K. L. (2013). That’s so gay! Microaggressions and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Nicol, D., & Yee, J. (2017). “Reclaiming our time”: Women of color faculty and radical self-care in the academy. Feminist Teacher, 27(2-3), 133-156. doi:10.5406/femteacher.27.2-3.0133
Nixon, M. L. (2017). Experiences of women of color university chief diversity officers. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 10(4), 301–317. https://doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000043
Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406917733847
Ong, M. (2005). Body projects of young women of color in physics: Intersections of gender, race, and science. Social Problems, 52(4), 593–617. doi: 10.1525/sp.2005.52.4.593
Pérez Huber, L. & Solórzano, D. (2015). Racial microaggressions as a tool for critical race research. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 18, 297-320. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2014.994173
Pierce, C., Carew, J., Pierce-Gonzalez, D., & Willis, D. (1978). An experiment in racism: TV commercials. In C. Pierce (Ed.), Television & education (pp. 62–88). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Pittman, C. T. (2012). Racial microaggression: The narratives of African American faculty at a predominantly white university. Journal of Negro Education, 8, 82-92. doi: 10.7709/jnegroeducation.81.1.0082
Rockquemore, K. A. & Laszloffy, T. (2008.) The Black academic’s guide to winning tenure – Without losing your soul. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Ropers-Huilman, R. & Winters, K. T. (2011). Feminist research in higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 82(6), 667-690. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2011.11777223
Runyowa, S. (Sept 18, 2015). Microaggressions matter: They may not always be ill-intentioned, but the slights illuminate deeper problems in America. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/microaggressions-matter/406090/
Sanchez-Parkinson, L., Grim, J. K., Chavous, T. M., & Ting, M. (2018). The experiences of academic diversity officers in schools/colleges. Paper presented at The American Educational Research Association. New York City.
Shields, S. (2008). Gender: An intersectionality perspective. Sex Roles, 59, 301–311. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9501-8
Smedley, A. & Faye Hutchinson, J. (2012). Racism in the academy: The new millennium. Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256441934_RACISM_IN_THE_ACADEMY_Toward_a_Multi-Methodological_Agenda_for_Anthropological_Engagement
Smith, W. A., Allen, W. R., & Danley, L. L. (2007). Assume the position... you fit the description: Psychosocial experiences and racial battle fatigue among African American male college students. American Behavioral Scientist 51(4), 551-578. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764207307742
Smith, W. A., Yosso, T., & Solórzano, D. (2006). Challenging racial battle fatigue on historically white campuses: A critical race examination of race-related stress. In C. A. Stanley (Ed.), Faculty of color teaching in predominantly white colleges and universities (pp. 299-327). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.
Solórzano, D. (2018). Why racial microaggressions matter? How I came to answer that question and why I do the work I do. In L. Perna (ed.), Taking it to the streets: The role of scholarship in advocacy and advocacy in scholarship (pp. 92-99). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Solórzano, D. G., Ceja, M., & Yosso, T. (2000). Critical race theory, racial microaggressions, and campus racial climate: The experiences of African American college students. Journal of Negro Education, 69, 60–73. doi: 10.17763/haer.79.4.m6867014157m707l
Stuart, O. (1992). Race and disability: Just a double oppression? Disability & Society, 7, 177-188. https://doi.org/10.1080/02674649266780201
Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271–286. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.4.271
Sulé, V. T. (2011). Their rightful place: Diversity narratives, women of color agency and transformation of the academy. In G. Jean-Marie & B. Lloyd-Jones (Eds.), Women of color in higher education: Changing directions and new perspectives (pp. 135–161). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3644(2011)0000010011
Sung, K. (2015). ‘Hella ghetto!’: (Dis)locating race and class consciousness in youth discourses of ghetto spaces, subjects and schools. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 18(3) 363-395. doi: 10.1080/13613324.2013.792799
Taylor, C. (1992). Multiculturalism and “The Politics of Recognition.” Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Thomas, C. (1999). Female forms: Experiencing and understanding disability. Philadelphia: Open University Press.
Thomson, R. G. (1997). Extraordinary bodies. Figuring physical disability in American culture and literature. New York: Columbia UP.
Thompson, G. L. & Louque, A. C. (2005). Exposing the "culture of arrogance" in the academy; A blueprint for increasing Black faculty satisfaction in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Torres-Harding, S. R., Andrade, A. L., Jr., & Romero Diaz, C. E. (2012). The racial microaggressions scale (RMAS): A new scale to measure experiences of racial microaggressions in people of color. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18, 153–164. doi:10.1037/a0027658
Turner, C. S. V. (2002). Women of color in academe: Living with multiple marginality. Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), 74-93. Retrieved from JSTOR http://www.jstor.org/stable/1558448
Turner, C. S. V., González, J. C., & Wong, K. (2011). Faculty women of color: The critical nexus of race and gender. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 4, 199–211. doi:10.1037/a0024630
Turner, C. S. V., González, J. C., & Wood, J. L. (2008). Faculty of color in academe: What 20 years of literature tells us. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(3), 139–168. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012837
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). (2017). Headcount faculty, staff, students. Received by internal email on 9.17.2020.
van Dijk, T. A. (2008). Critical discourse analysis. In D. Schiffrin, D. Tannen, & H. E. Hamilton (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 352–371). Oxford: Blackwell.
Walker-Canton, R. (2013). Living thinkers: An autobiography of Black women in the ivory tower. New York: Women Make Movies.
Watson, C. (2007). Small stories, positioning analysis, and the doing of professional identities in learning to teach. Narrative Inquiry, 17(2), 371–389. https://doi.org/10.1075/ni.17.2.11wat
Wendell, S. (1996). The rejected body: Feminist philosophical reflections on disability. New York: Routledge.
Winkle-Wagner, R. (2009). The unchosen me: Race, gender, and identity among Black women in college. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Witherspoon Arnold, N., Crawford, E. R., & Khalifa, M. (2016). Psychological heuristics and faculty of color: Racial battle fatigue and tenure/promotion. The Journal of Higher Education, 87(6), 890-919. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2016.11780891
Wong, G., Derthick, A. O., David, E. J. R., Saw, A., & Okazaki, S. (2013). The what, the why, and the how: A review of racial microaggressions research in psychology. Race and Social Problems, 6, 181-200. doi: 10.1007/s12552-013-9107-9
Young, K. & Anderson, M. (2018). Microaggressions in higher education: Embracing educative spaces. In C. M. Capodilupo, K. L. Nadal, D. P. Rivera, D. W. Sue, & G. C. Torino (Eds.), Microaggression theory – Influence and implications. Hoboken, NJ.: John Wiley & Sons.
Young, K., Anderson, M., & Stewart, S. (2015). Hierarchical microaggressions in higher education. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 8(1), 61-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038464
Copyright (c) 2021 Kathryn Young
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.