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Gender microaggressions that target women in the U.S. military: Examining links with depression and the moderating role of rank and coping

APA Citation:

Kim, Y., Dimberg, S. K., Spanierman, L. B., & Clark, D. A. (2024). Gender microaggressions that target women in the U.S. military: Examining links with depression and the moderating role of rank and coping. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 48(1), 108–120. https://doi.org/10.1177/03616843231202706

Abstract Created by REACH:

Gender microaggressions are derogatory, gender-based interactions that result in harmful insults, whether intentional or unintentional, for example, using sexist language or assuming that a woman is subordinate. In a sample of 682 active-duty Servicewomen, this study examined the relationship between experiences of gender microaggressions and depressive symptoms and investigated whether the magnitude of that relationship differed based on rank and coping strategies used (e.g., make a plan of action, blame oneself). Overall, more experiences of gender microaggressions were related to more depressive symptoms, and this relationship was stronger among enlisted Servicewomen.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches
Air Force

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Yeeun Kim, Sierra K. Dimberg, Lisa B. Spanierman, D Anthony Clark


In this study, we examined active-duty women's experiences with gender microaggressions in the U.S. military and their associations with depressive symptoms. We also tested if rank and coping strategies would moderate the link between gender microaggressions and depressive symptoms. Participants comprised 682 self-identified women from the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy. Results from an online survey indicated that active-duty women's experiences with gender microaggressions were positively and significantly associated with their scores on a measure of depressive symptoms. Military rank moderated this association but coping strategies did not. Specifically, among those in lower military ranks (i.e., enlisted service members) we found a stronger association between gender microaggressions and depressive symptoms, whereas higher rank (i.e., officers) served as a buffer. Our results suggest that clinicians should be aware of the potential effects of gender microaggressions on active-duty women's mental health, especially among enlisted women. Commanding officers and military policymakers should consider potential implications of gender microaggressions on unit cohesion, unit performance, and mission effectiveness.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

SAGE PublicationsSage CA: Los Angeles, CA

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


gender microaggressions, sexism, coping strategies, women in the military

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  February 2024

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