ORCID Identifier(s)

ORCID 0000-0001-5819-7502

Graduation Semester and Year

Spring 2024



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration



First Advisor

Alison V. Hall Birch

Second Advisor

Ariane Froidevaux

Third Advisor

Wendy J. Casper

Fourth Advisor

Alexis N. Smith-Washington


Subtle forms of workplace discrimination have many adverse consequences for employees and organizations (Jones et al., 2016). Microinsults – a type of microaggression “characterized by interpersonal or environmental communications that convey stereotypes, rudeness, and insensitivity and that demean a person’s racial, gender, or sexual orientation, heritage, or identity” (Sue, 2010, p. 31) – are one form of subtle discrimination that may be pervasive in organizations. As they are invisible and ambiguous (Sue et al., 2008), some research suggests that microinsults are more taxing than overt forms of discrimination because they involve guesswork and sensemaking for the target to process their experience (e.g., Sue et al., 2007). Still, we know relatively little about the implications of microinsults for targeted employees and their careers. As such, the present dissertation explores the relationship between microinsults and target employees’ sustainable career outcomes of being happy (i.e., job satisfaction), healthy (i.e., subjective well-being), and productive (i.e., self-perceived career sustainability) at work (De Vos et al., 2020). Drawing on conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989), which suggests that individuals are motivated to protect their current resources and acquire new resources to recover from resource loss, I argue that microinsults represent a stressor that depletes targets’ cognitive and emotional resources, straining their sustainable career outcomes in turn. I examine a specific type of microinsult that pathologizes the communication styles of some demographic groups via negative stereotypes related to how such groups express their emotions – emotion-based microinsult (EBMI). For example, the “angry Black woman” and “spicy Latina” stereotypes constrain the emotional expressions of anger for Black and Latina women at work. Similarly, the “too sensitive” stereotype implies that younger workers are easily offended when they may not be or when heightened sensitivity is warranted. As the act of suppressing negative emotions can drain an individual’s cognitive and emotional resources (Grandey et al., 2012), I contend that microinsults that invalidate targets’ emotions may prompt stereotype threat among targets – placing them in a predicament of “being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group” (Steele & Aronson, 1995, p. 797) – activating a downward resource loss spiral for targeted employees, ultimately resulting in adverse sustainable career outcomes. However, I also explore the extent to which perceived climates of emotional authenticity (i.e., “the extent that coworkers value authentic expressions of emotions with each other”; Grandey et al., 2012, p. 1) may act as a source of resource gain and as such moderate EBMI’s positive effect on employee’s experience of stereotype threat. Specifically, as resource gains become more critical when resource loss circumstances are high (Hobfoll et al., 2018), more favorably perceived climates of emotional authenticity that allow employees to express their emotions safely should buffer the detrimental influence of EBMIs on stereotype threat; that is, the relationship between EBMIs and stereotype threat should be weakened in favorable perceived climates of emotional authenticity.


microinsult, stereotype threat, sustainable careers, perceived climate of authenticity, subtle discrimination


Business | Organizational Behavior and Theory


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2026