Macro-bucks for microaggressions!

The National Science Foundation–that's our tax dollars, dear reader–is spending $548,459 to videotape male engineering students in their labs  to find out whether they are causing female engineering students to experience "microaggressions," the Washington Free Beacon reports. A microaggression, by the way, is a sexist slight that is so minuscule that the male perp often doesn't realize he's perpetrating it–but the female "victim" feels a big hurt because a safe space has been violated, or whatever. For example, a man's opening a door for a woman would definitely be a microaggression on many a college campus. As would making a joke about women drivers.

So the NSA is shelling out half a million bucks to a female researcher (natch), Denise Sekaquaptewa, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in studying "stereotype threat": the idea that women don't perform as well as men in certain fields because men think they don't perform as well, and these negative perceptions somehow rub off on the women.

Stereotype threat is one of the standard feminist explanations for why there are relatively few female engineers or other STEM professionals–as opposed to the theory that most women just aren't that interested in STEM or that their brains might be built differently.

As Sekaquaptewa explained in her 2014 grant application submitted to the NSA:

Because engineering is cast as a masculine field, women engineering students can experience subtle yet pervasive stereotypic messages in their learning environments that can negatively influence their experiences. This early stage research project will identify specific behavioral manifestations of gender stereotypes–microaggressions–and their cumulative effect on learning, performance, and persistence in introductory engineering course teamwork. Such microaggressions may cause the climate of the team to become less welcoming to women.

The Free Beacon reports:

The project will involve videotaping engineering classrooms to observe “perceived stereotype threats” against female students.

“The goal of the project is to identify and reliably measure microaggressions in both lab-based and classroom-based engineering student project teams,” the grant said. “The research will test whether exposure to microaggressions increases perceived stereotype threat and diminishes a sense of belonging in engineering for women compared to men, leading to a gender gap favoring men in the important engineering outcomes of learning, performance, and persistence.”

So watch it, guy-engineers: No jokes about how many feminists it takes to change a lightbulb–at least until Sekaquatewa's NSA grant money runs out.