Micro-Inequities: 40 Year Later

There’s a good discussion of micro-inequities over at Psychology Today, cross-posted on NewAPPS. The post starts with the history of the concept, then moves on to adducing examples of micro-inequities (drawn from What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?), and to drawing connections with implicit bias research. It’s worth the read.

Here’s a taste:

Rowe noted that micro-inequities often had serious cumulative, harmful effects, resulting in hostile work environments and continued minority discrimination in public and private workplaces and organizations. What makes micro-inequities particularly problematic is that they consist in micro-messages that are hard to recognize for victims, bystanders and perpetrators alike. When victims of micro-inequities do recognize the micro-messages, Rowe argues, it is exceedingly hard to explain to others why these small behaviors can be a huge problem.

Thanks, S!

6 thoughts on “Micro-Inequities: 40 Year Later

  1. You can also read my paper on this, Samantha Brennan. “RETHINKING THE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE OF MICRO-INEQUITIES: THE CASE OF WOMEN IN PHILOSOPHY” Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change?. Ed. Fiona Jenkins and Katrina Hutchison. Oxford University Press, 2013. Email me for the paper if you’re interested.

  2. Micro-inequities are rampant among liberal men who consider themselves to be enlightened. While on a board for an inter-cooperative council, for instance, I repeatedly had the experience of the men ignoring what I said. Later a man would say the same thing with three times the verbiage then the board would get excited about this “great idea.” When challenged directly about it, they would lapse into a mini-coma and then move on as if that hadn’t happened at all. The denial was physically manifest. That can be really disturbing to watch.

    When men expect women to appreciate them because they aren’t blatantly abusive and they give occasional lip service to equality, the micro-inequities can be piled on, and any protest can be met with weapons-grade gas-lighting.

  3. In response to wileywitch above, the behaviour described is also present among enlightened feminists also. I have been at feminist meetings where someone made a proposal that got no uptake while the same proposal made by a well known feminist was later made and received as a terrific idea. These occurrences are not noticed by either the well known feminist or by those in her circle. This leads me to believe that I may well have done the same thing myself sometimes when I was in the comfortable position of being the one with the privilege (something I am fairly often given my socio-economic status)

    The lesson I draw from this isn’t “oh, lets not blame those liberal men”. Rather it is that (a) we need to tell people when they do this and (b) we need to be open to being told about it ourselves when we do it.

  4. Margaret Atherton: I believe the book is not out yet, as it’s not coming up in searches on OUP’s site or Amazon.

Comments are closed.