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Women’s experiences of racial microaggressions in STEMM workplaces and the importance of white allyship

Robyn Moore, Meredith Nash

Abstract


This article explores how gender interacts with race, ethnicity and/or culture to structure the microaggressions experienced by visibly and culturally diverse women in Australian Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) organisations. We focus on these women’s experiences to disrupt the normative erasure of race from the workplace diversity context. We conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with women in academia, industry and government who self-identify as women of colour or as culturally diverse. We use an intersectional lens to show that the challenges experienced by visibly and culturally diverse women cannot simply be subsumed under gender. Rather, race and gender intersect to create overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination and disadvantage. These issues are largely unintelligible in STEMM fields as science is positioned as gender- and race-neutral. Consequently, despite their devastating impact, racial microaggressions may be invisible to members of the dominant racial group—those most likely to be the peers and managers of visibly and culturally diverse women. White managers and peers can act as allies to women of colour in STEMM by respecting and amplifying their concerns.  Learning to recognise and confront racial microaggressions can help make science workplaces more inclusive of all scientists.


Keywords


Australia, culture, gender, race, whiteness

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