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Taxpayer-funded org gives $248K to profs for microaggression study to make students feel safe

A taxpayer-funded organization has given nearly a quarter-million dollars to Iowa State University professors to research gender microaggressions. (FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images, TheBlaze composite)

The National Science Foundation — a taxpayer-funded organization — doled out more than $248,000 to three Iowa State University professors so that they could study gender and racial microaggressions, with the ultimate goal to made students feel safer in the classroom.

What is the goal of this project?

According to a Campus Reform report on Thursday, the lead researcher at the university aims to "contribute to diversifying engineering programs" and make students feel safer in the classroom.

The study, titled, "Collaborative Research: An Intersectional Perspective to Studying Microaggressions in Engineering Programs," will cost taxpayers about $248,744 over the next four years.

Lead researcher Cristina Poleacovschi, an engineering professor, told the outlet that studying "microaggressions" is absolutely important because such "microaggressions" can harm students.

“I find microaggressions particularly interesting because they are normalized in our everyday life but have significant consequences over time,” Poleacovschi said.

“The contribution of this grant is bringing an intersectionality perspective to the concept of microaggressions where we consider the interconnected nature of race and gender,” she added.

What are the details?

The project will "collect stories from diverse identity groups in order to obtain a well-rounded understanding of microaggressions in engineering programs."

Poleacovschi explained that the study is important because “creating an environment where minority students feel safe and included allows educating a competitive workforce which will ultimately positively impact our society by incorporating the needs and perspectives of all student groups.”

According to the grant's abstract, published earlier in August by the National Science Foundation, "the research is motivated by the persistently low representation of gender and racial minorities in engineering education."

One of the study's aims is to "study the subtle behaviors, or microaggressions, that students experience in engineering programs," and to increase awareness of such behaviors that can harm engineering students.

The four primary goals of the study include:

  1. [I]dentify gender and race microaggressions experienced by engineering students who identify as white men, white women, African-American men, African-American women, Latino men, Latina women, Asian men and Asian women
  2. [B]uild a gender and race microaggressions psychometric scale based on two institutional contexts
  3. [T]est the relationship between gender and race microaggressions and success and persistence indicators (self-efficacy, institutional affiliation, psychological well-being and academic performance) in the context of a [Predominately White Institution] and a [Historically Black Colleges and Universities]
  4. [C]ontrast and compare student experiences with gender and race microaggressions within and across the two institutional contexts.

The project, which will kick off in January, is expected to wrap up by December 2021.

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