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Microaggression experiences of different marginalized identities

Nisha Nair (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Deborah Cain Good (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Audrey J. Murrell (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 29 August 2019

Issue publication date: 20 September 2019




Given the nascent stage of research on microaggressions, the study is an attempt to better understand the experience of microaggressions and examine it from the point of view of different marginalized minority identities. The purpose of this paper is to report on the subjective experience of microaggressions from the lenses of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.


To explore how microaggressions are experienced by different identities, the authors conducted four focus group studies with university students at a prominent Midwestern university. Each focus group focused on the experience of microaggressions for a particular identity group.


The authors discuss the nature and forms of exclusion that occur through microaggressions, and offer six microaggression themes that emerged as common across the marginalized identities studied. The authors add to the microaggression taxonomy and highlight the role of repetition in how microaggressions are perceived. The authors also discuss intersectional microaggressions.


While various studies have focused on reporting microaggression themes with regard to singular identities, this study is potentially the first that explores microaggression themes across different marginalized identities. The findings highlight novel forms of microaggressions such as the revealing or making visible of marginalized identities, and microaggressions emanating from within a minority group directed at other members within the same identity group, what the authors call as in-group microaggressions. The authors highlight and point to the need for more work on intersectional microaggressions.



This work was supported by the University Research Council’s small grants funding for research in diversity. Funding from the University’s Central Research Development Fund helped support research subject payments for our research.


Nair, N., Good, D.C. and Murrell, A.J. (2019), "Microaggression experiences of different marginalized identities", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 38 No. 8, pp. 870-883.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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