What is micro-feminism and could it help tackle gender inequality?

Woman having a hard time in a meeting full of women. (Getty Images)
The micro-feminism movement is taking over TikTok, but what is it? (Getty Images)

TikTok isn't short of a lifestyle trend or two - QuitTok, Lazy Girl Jobs to name a few, but a new movement has now emerged on the video sharing platform which is all about empowering women.

Micro-feminism, as it has been dubbed, celebrates women partaking in small acts of feminism, particularly in the workplace, in a bid to tackle the gender inequalities that still very much exist.

Videos under the tag have clocked up more than 10 million views collectively, with creators sharing their own experiences of the trend.

In basic terms, micro-feminism is the small, deliberate actions taken to combat everyday sexism, particularly in workplaces and social settings.

"It can be viewed as a way to make gradual changes that contribute to a broader shift towards gender equality," explains therapist, Sophie Cress.

For example, at work if somebody says “I have to talk to the board”, a micro-feminist will always reply with, “let me know what she says. Always she, by default."

It's “saying MS instead of MISS or MRS, because it doesn’t mean you’re married or un-married," another micro-feminism advocate reveals.

Ashley Chaney, who helped kick-start the chatter about the movement with her own video clip says her favourite form of micro-feminism involves simply addressing women first in a group email, for example beginning with "Hello Kathy, and Joe".

Cress says the difference between traditional feminism and micro-feminism is in the scale and approach.

"While feminism incorporates large-scale advocacy, protests, and systemic changes, micro-feminism focuses on subtle, daily actions that challenge patriarchal norms and provide women with meaningful, personal support," she explains.

"Micro-feminism can be as simple as giving credit to a female colleague whose idea was claimed by someone else, or prioritising female perspectives in meetings," she continues.

"These actions may seem small, but they can build confidence, create supportive environments, and gradually change workplace dynamics."

Cress says micro-feminism is becoming increasingly important as it addresses the need for change at a personal and community level.

"In my observation, although large-scale feminist movements are crucial, they can sometimes feel disconnected from everyday life," she explains.

"Micro-feminism provides a practical way for individuals to take part in promoting gender equality without requiring extensive resources or platforms. It enables people to combat sexism and encourage inclusivity in their immediate environments, such as workplaces and social circles."

Woman holding up a 'we are equal' sign. (Getty Images)
What's the difference between micro-feminism and traditional feminism? (Getty Images)

While not confined to the workplace, the social media movement certainly highlights the huge gender disparities women still experience in their working roles.

Research conducted in 2023 by Lean In reveals women represent just one in four C-suite leaders, which falls to one in 16 among women of colour.

A 2023 study by People Managing People found there are more CEOs named Andrew and Simon than total female CEOs in the UK, and, in proof the gender pay gap is showing no signs of reducing, female CEOs are also paid 23.5% less than male CEOs.

Ruth Kudzi a psychology and neuroscience expert says women still experience gender inequality in the workplace in 2024 for multiple reasons.

"Statistics and realities show that there is a childcare in-balance and the motherhood penalty is alive and kicking and obviously this impacts a lot of women," she explains.

"The structures within particular organisations don't help. There are less role models in senior positions, so women may feel less confident to go for promotions and many of the decision makers still tend to be men."

"Although these acts of micro-feminism are small, it’s vitally important to fight back against harmful stereotypes to ensure there is an equal footing in the workplace," HR expert, David Rice at People Managing People explains.

“There is still a huge gender disparity in the workplace, the research says it all, with women being paid more than a quarter less than men."

Cress says micro-feminism is a powerful tool for addressing gender inequality by changing the culture from the ground up.

"These small, consistent actions can challenge entrenched gender norms and create a more inclusive environment," she says. "When individuals take intentional steps to give women more recognition and space, such as highlighting their contributions in meetings or prioritising their voices in discussions, it can create a ripple effect that encourages broader changes within a community or organisation.

"These micro-movements can alter the dynamics in workplaces and social settings, leading to the greater acknowledgment of gender-based biases and inspiring others to act similarly.

"While these small acts alone may not eradicate systemic inequalities, they can build a foundation of support and awareness that is crucial for larger-scale feminist efforts to take root and thrive."

There are some ways to introduce micro-feminism into our every day lives. (Getty Images)
There are some ways to introduce micro-feminism into our every day lives. (Getty Images)

Cress suggests starting with simple, everyday actions that uplift and support women.

Acknowledge female achievements

To show your appreciation for women, start by acknowledging their contributions in your professional and social circles. "If a female colleague suggests an idea in a meeting, amplify her voice by giving her credit when others overlook or claim her ideas," suggests Cress.

"When appropriate, list women's names first in emails or other communication, subtly challenging traditional hierarchies."

Practice active listening

In conversations with women, practice active listening, ensuring they have the chance to speak without interruption. "If you notice a man interrupting a woman, intervene by redirecting attention back to her," Cress says.

"When you're at social gatherings, make an effort to introduce and include women, making them feel valued and seen."

Show your support

Support female creators and women-owned businesses as needed. "Share their work on social media, offer positive reviews, and encourage others to do the same," Cress says.

"These micro-feminist actions can collectively make a significant impact, fostering a more equitable environment."