Thankfully, I retired from corporate America in 2002, and despite my best efforts have not succeeded in returning. Which means that I'm coming late to the party: apparently the "microinequities" trend has been around for a few years, really picking up steam in 2004. Bored, perhaps, with their diversity and sexual harassment workshops, major corporations from Campbell Soup to Wells Fargo have begun to implement "microinequities" training programs.
What are microinequities? Read the Wiki definition here, if you like, which informs us that microinequities can be committed in deceptively innocent-sounding ways, such as the use of sex-specific pronouns, or referring to "black and white thinking". According to one female professorial blogger:
Micro-inequities are ways in which people are ignored, disrespected, undermined, or somehow treated in a different (negative) way because of their gender or race (or some other intrinsic characteristic).
A micro-inequity can be very micro. It can involve an action or words or even a tone of voice or a gesture. The inequity can be a deliberate attempt to harm someone or it can be unintentional, rooted in a person's perceptions about others.
She then refers to a previous incident, in which she was mistaken for a student by someone working for the university:
Recently I was asked for my student ID by a young man working at a campus site that provides a computer-related service to students and faculty.
FSP: I don't have a student ID.
Tech guy: Then I can't help you.
FSP: How about if I give you my faculty ID?
Tech guy: Oh.. yeah, OK.
And then we were all set ....
Between the ages of late-20's to early 40's, although no longer a student*, I was often mistaken for one** because I looked like I was still young enough to be a student of some sort. In those days, it seemed to me that such things happened more often to me than they did to youthful looking men, but it was difficult to separate the youthful-looking factor from the gender-stereotyping factor.
Now that you can see the wrinkles on my face in Google Earth images, a person asking me for my student ID must be making the assumption that it is more likely that I am a non-traditional student than a professor. That is disheartening because it means that even people in their 20's working on a university campus think it more likely that a woman in her 40's is a student rather than a professor.
It would be fun to critique this incident. In the first place, you can take it to the bank that this professor dressed in a manner that was indistinguishable from her students. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when university professors could be readily identified on campus by their manner of dress, which made avoiding this kind of "micro-offense" a little easier. There was also a time, in the not-so-distant past, when a lady would have taken such a mistake as a compliment. Etc. But for those who have been trained in the art of discerning "microinequities", every encounter, every conversation, and every interpersonal act is ultimately about power and dominance.
Rest assured that the "microinequities" racket is the latest step in the ongoing corporate emasculation of employees perceived as insufficiently diverse (i.e., straight white males) and who, according to the slimy diversity huckster in the video below, "will never get it".