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Just a Race Hire? The Effects of Competency Microaggressions on Workplace Behaviors and Emotion

Dr. Malissa Alinor
Dr. Malissa Alinor
Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership and Innovation Lab
Stanford University
MLC 213
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Sponsored by the Sociology Graduate Student Society

Black professionals frequently encounter competency microaggressions in the workplace, characterized by comments and behaviors that suggest low expectations of their abilities, casting doubt on their qualifications, or eliciting surprise when they demonstrate competence. While existing research has documented the prevalence of workplace racial microaggressions, coping strategies, and their effects on job satisfaction, there is a dearth of literature examining the direct impact of competency microaggressions on individual emotional and behavioral outcomes in the workplace. Consequently, efforts to mitigate their effects and reduce their frequency are hampered. Through an experimental design, I investigate the effects of competency microaggressions on group interactions and emotions using an online sample of Black workers. The findings reveal a negative effect of experiencing such microaggressions on group interaction and the workers’ emotions. These results have practical implications for Black workers and other groups vulnerable to competency microaggressions (e.g. women), as well as for organizational policies aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion.

Malissa Alinor is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's VMware Women's Leadership Innovation Lab. In Fall 2023, she will be an assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her PhD in sociology from the University of Georgia and her mixed-methods research is focused on understanding how discrimination impacts our lives.

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