Are You Unconsciously Biased?

Your background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can have an impact on your decisions and actions without you realising.

Unconscious bias happens when our brains make incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us realising. Our biases are influenced by our backgroundcultural environment and personal experiences. We may not even be aware of these views and opinions, or of their full impact and implications.

Research has found that unconscious bias can heavily influence recruitment and selection decisions. Several experiments using CV shortlisting exercises have highlighted bias by gender and ethnicity.

A study of science faculties in higher education institutions (Moss-Racusin et al 2012) asked staff to review a number of applications. The applications reviewed were identical, apart from the gender of the name of the applicant.

Science faculties were more likely to:

  • rate male candidates as better qualified than female candidates
  • want to hire the male candidates rather than the female candidates
  • give the male candidate a higher starting salary than the female candidate
  • be willing to invest more in the development of the male candidate than the female candidate

Here, unconscious bias impacts not only on the recruitment decision, but the salary of the individual and the amount of development that is invested in their ongoing progression.

-Article from Equality Challenge Unit


Test Your Unconscious Bias 

Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition - thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. They have developed a number of tests to measure Unconscious Bias. Follow this link to test your Unconscious Bias. We recommend the Gender-Career and Gender-Science IATs as they relate to our work hear at the Queen's Gender Initiative.

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Queen's Celebrates SWAN Success with UMass Lowell Visit

Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative Professor Yvonne Galligan and Dean Professor Tom Millar pictured with Professor Julie Chen, Vice Provost for Research and Professor Paula Rayman, both from UMass Lowell

Queen’s position as a national leader in gender equality practices has been reinforced with the news that we have retained our institutional Athena SWAN silver award. We are one of only five UK universities to hold an institutional silver award which recognises good employment practices for women working in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

The Schools of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science have also had their Athena SWAN silver awards renewed. In total, the University holds 11 SWAN departmental Awards, including two Gold.

As one of the leading UK universities for tackling the unequal representation of women in science and engineering, Queen’s recently welcomed visitors from UMass Lowell to share best practice and provide mentoring support.

During the visit, representatives from UMass Lowell met the Vice- Chancellor, Director of Queen’s Gender Initiative Professor Professor Yvonne Galligan and the Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor Tom Millar.

- Article from Queen's Now, May/June 2015 Edition

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