Microaggression Expressions Submission Site
Ejanda, Cyndy Marie
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According to Dr. Stephanie Adams, Department Head of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, “The value of having diversity is that it brings multiple perspectives to solving problems. If everyone on the team looks the same, and has had the same experiences, then they can’t think about it from another person’s perspective. But when you bring people together with diverse backgrounds, races, genders, and sexual orientations, the group can approach a problem from a range of perspectives that makes for a much better solution.” A more diverse community at Virginia Tech brings multiple perspectives to solving problems. Creating a cultural climate that is supportive of everyone, can be difficult because of microaggressions. Microaggressions are the seemingly harmless snubs or insults communicated verbally or nonverbally that target an individual based on their group membership. Eliminating the occurrence of microaggressions maintains and promotes diversity at Virginia Tech. The College of Engineering is particularly homogeneous and is thus an excellent starting point for addressing microaggressions. The College consists of 85% male professors, and 15% female professors, of which 0.3% are American Indian, 21% Asian, 2% Black, 65% White, 6% Hispanic, 0.3% Multiracial, and 7% non-resident alien. To bring about a widespread understanding of how microaggressions affect people, a website (http://microaggressions.cs.vt.edu/) was created that allows faculty members in the College of Engineering to anonymously share their personal experience with microaggressions. By submitting anonymous posts, faculty can freely express their concerns, which can then be viewed publicly. This helps bring to the surface the kinds of hurtful comments that repeatedly get dismissed in the work environment. It is important to be able to study these posts – uncovering hidden patterns, correlations, and other insights – in order to better understand the problem. That is why we have incorporated filtering and visualization tools like a word cloud, N-grams, and graphs to allow the user to better understand patterns underlying the problem. We also implemented a simple anonymity checker that analyzes the post upon submission, looking for keywords that could identify a person. This, combined with a panel that allows the administrator and moderators to manually approve and flag posts prior to publication, ensures anonymity and privacy. Making faculty feel more included at Virginia Tech is the goal of this website. Our goal is for ALL faculty to feel accepted and included at Virginia Tech. We will accomplish this through our website by raising awareness of the damaging impact of microaggressions.