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The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) strives for equity and inclusivity. Instances of microaggressions can prevent community members from feeling welcome or finding a sense of belonging that is contrary to the aims of an academic and professional environment.  

What is a Microaggression?   

As defined by Derald Wing Sue of Columbia University, microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and/or denigrating messages sent by people who may be unaware of the hidden messages they communicate. Microaggressions are verbal, behavioral or environmental slights. They are often automatic and unintentional and occur in brief instances on a daily basis. They communicate hostile, derogatory or negative viewpoints, and they convey negative attitudes toward underrepresented groups.    

Examples of microaggressions: 

  • Micro-Assaults: conscious and intentional actions or slurs 
    • Examples include slurs, catcalling, intentionally mis-gendering or outing somebody.     
  • Micro-Insults: Subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s identity. 
    • Examples include phrases such as “That’s so gay,” assuming someone isn’t educated based on their appearance by saying, “You are so articulate,” or physically clutching a  purse or belongings when around certain people.   
  • Micro-Invalidations: Alien in your own country, unintentionally mis-gendering, denial of individual racism/sexism/heterosexism, myth of meritocracy.  

Supporting our Communities  

With the assistance of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and Director of the Health Law Clinic Tomar Pierson-Brown, the SHRS Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (OEDI&CE) is now offering a Microaggression Reporting Tool.   

This is a support resource meant to empower members of the SHRS community (students, faculty and staff) who have experienced microaggressions to document their experiences.  


Please use this tool if you have experienced a microaggression in your role as a member of the SHRS community. While interactions disclosed here may or may not result in any direct administrative action, the content shared helps OEDI&CE monitor SHRS' social climate.  


Learning About Microaggression  

Pitt and SHRS have resources for learning more about the impacts of microaggressions and how you can identify this potentially hurtful behavior in yourself and others. By becoming more aware of our language we are creating a safer, more welcoming environment for everyone. 

Additional Resources from the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: 

  Thank you to the Pitt School of Law and Tomar Pierson-Brown, JD, LLM for guiding us in providing this resource.  

 Please reach out to Nancy Gauvin, Anastasia White or Samantha Mozden if you have any questions.