Move Over, Microaggressions. Now We Have ‘Gender Shrapnel’

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Blake Neff Reporter
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Move over, microaggressions. There’s a new piece of hip lingo on campus: Gender shrapnel.

At least, that will be the case if Washington and Lee professor Ellen Mayock gets her way. Mayock has written a new book, “Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace.”

Mayock was interviewed by Inside Higher Ed in a Thursday piece where she elaborated on her ideas in some detail.

“Gender shrapnel is a series of small workplace explosions that occur when no one person or organization is purposefully discriminating against women … but when the gender norms of our homes and of our public interactions that consistently follow a patriarchal flow are replicated in the workplace, entrenched in the workplace, and then become the fabric of a pattern of sexual discrimination,” Mayock says in the interview. “Gender shrapnel also encompasses the scattered bits of metal at the intersections of gender with race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, parental status, national origin and religion.”

Mayock calls her idea “shrapnel” to capture the idea that women are hurt only a little bit by each instance of sexism, but these tiny wounds can persist, build up, and eventually become fatal to a woman’s career.

Mayock also elaborates on the idea of “bad gender days,” presumably a takeoff on “bad hair days.”

“A bad gender day for me might include being interrupted at a meeting, hearing another credited with my idea or work, having someone speak for me, rather than listen to me, and/or being seen in a group of women and being asked what we are ‘plotting,'” she says.

Whether Mayock’s ideas will take off remains to be seen. The book may be a pricey read for many, though, as it’s currently being sold for $100 per hardcore, or $80 in e-book form.

Read her entire interview here.

“Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace” — $95.06

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Blake Neff