Download and print the Unconscious Bias worksheet to help you complete the online tasks while undertaking this session.
Task 1: Watch
- Click the link to watch the video Understanding Unconscious Bias produced by the Royal Society (an independent scientific academy, dedicated to promoting excellence in science in the UK).
- Having watched the video, answer the following questions.
- What are your initial thoughts and reactions to the clip?
- Can you think of examples of unconscious bias from your own experience?
- What comments under the clip do you agree or disagree with?
Write your answer under Prepare Task 1 on the session worksheet.
Task 1: Watch
- Watch the video entitled Australian Snickers ad – Progressive or Sexist?
- Having watched the ad, take a few moments to think about whether this ad promotes gender equality values or not.
Write your answer under Apply Task 1 on the session worksheet.
Task 2: Read and write
Devine et al (2012) suggest five evidence-based strategies that have been shown to counteract unintentional bias at an individual level. These are listed and described below.
- Stereotype replacement
- Counter-stereotypic imagining
- Perspective taking
- Increasing intergroup contact
Try to recognise stereotypes in both your own experiences and in wider society (e.g. social media, advertising). Think about why the stereotype occurs and what it could be replaced with.
Imagine in detail someone who counteracts the stereotype whether in abstract (e.g. female scientist) or a specific famous (e.g. Marie Curie) or non-famous (e.g. a personal friend/colleague) person.
Obtain specific information about individuals. This helps you to evaluate individuals on their personal, rather than group-based, attributes. Can you think of individuals for whom you can plan to apply this strategy?
Adopt the perspective of the person being stereotyped, avoiding automatic assumptions. What are your thoughts, having stepped into their shoes?
Seek opportunities to encounter and engage in positive interaction with people from your ‘out-group’. Can you name individuals from your out-group who you can commit to engaging with regularly?
Respond to each instruction or question for each strategy under Apply Task 2 on the session worksheet.
Task 3: Interact and write
Click the link to complete The Trusted Ten Exercise.
Write your answers under Apply Task 3 on the session worksheet.
Task 4: Interact and write
People are less likely to respond to job advertisements that have words biased in favour of the opposite gender. Research 'demonstrates that gendered wording commonly employed in job recruitment materials can maintain gender inequality in traditionally male-dominated occupations' (Gaucher et al, 2011).
Describing jobs in more gender-neutral terms can lead to an increase in the number of applicants. The phrasing in job descriptions can also play a role, for example: 'We are looking for strong....' can be replaced with 'We are looking for exceptional....'
Test how gender-biased your job advertisements are with the following exercise.
- Find a recent job advertisement from your department or institution.
- Follow this link and copy the text into the Jobs Advertising Decoder
- Answer the following questions:
- How did the job ad from your institution perform in the gender bias decoder?
- Are there any words or phrases that could be changed to be more gender neutral?
Write your answers under Apply Task 4 on the session worksheet.
Task 1: Write
- Identify two personal actions that you can take to mitigate your own biases, choosing something that it is within your control to do and does not rely on either other people or the institution to change. For example: 'When conducting interviews, I will use standardised questions' or 'when giving presentations I will include images reflecting diversity'.
- Identify one thing your organisation should do to reduce bias within its systems, and use the format of 'when X happens, we will do Y'. For example: 'When the organisation advertises jobs, we will check them for gender neutral language and phrasing'.
Write your answers under Reflect Task 1 on the session worksheet.
Task 1: Quiz
This quiz activity contains a series of questions on the content of this session, and is designed to assist you to review the key points covered in the session material. You can take the quiz as many times as you like, and feedback is provided to help explain the correct answers.
Brief guide to dealing with gender biases at work - this guide provides an insight into seven key issues to consider when addressing bias in the workplace.
Corinne A. Moss-Racusin, John F. Dovidio, Victoria L. Brescoll, Mark J. Graham, and Jo Handelsman, 2012, Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students PNAS October 9, 2012 109 (41) 16474-16479
Devine PG, Forscher PS, Austin AJ, Cox WTL. (2012) Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: A prejudice habit-breaking intervention Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 2012;48:1267–1278.
Gaucher, D., Friesen, J., & Kay, A. C. (2011, March 7) Evidence That Gendered Wording in Job Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0022530.
Rocío Lorenzo discusses the link between diversity and innovation. In this video Rocio Lorenzo discusses her research, which demonstrates a relationship between high levels of diversity and organisational innovation.
Video by McKinsey Company on workplace assumptions and addressing unconscious bias. – this video highlights some of the gender assumptions that are made in workplaces by exploring what it would be like if gender assumptions were reversed.
Kahneman’s theory of dual processing. Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book 'Thinking Fast and Slow' is summarised in this video, which explains how our brains process the information they receive.
What are in-groups and out-groups?. This brief video explains the concept of in-groups and out-groups and the implications of how they can impact on our behaviour.
Recruitment Bias in Research Institutes. The recruitment process in a university setting is analysed in this video, which demonstrates how to reduce some of the biases that can influence the work of an interview panel.
The University of Lausanne has produced this video to highlight how to reduce bias in the recruitment process. Reducing bias in recruitment.