A bias against bias testing

Published today in Research Professional, Pete Jones discusses how the University employees most concerned with diversity tend to be least willing to be tested for unconscious bias.

”My experience of testing academics and support staff in universities suggests that the levels of bias on the basis of gender, ethnicity and disability are similar to those in other workplaces……..

Biases are not simply a property of individuals; we see higher levels of bias in some faculties and departments than others, for instance. Looking across employers, we also see variations in the type and direction—for example, for or against women with children—and differences in the strength of biases.

But, while universities may be no more or less biased than other workplaces, we have found those who work there are among the least willing to accept they have biases. In our experience, two groups in particular show a lot of variation in take-up rates when they are invited for testing. The group with the most variation consists of human resources managers, diversity professionals and staff network leaders. We have also seen much higher take-up rates among academics working in science subjects such as physics, engineering, and animal and plant sciences than from those working in the arts, humanities and social sciences. 

This was a conundrum at first. Why would the champions of diversity and inclusion be reticent about testing while they are encouraging others to take part? And why would academics with a reputation for being liberal and socially attuned show a similar reluctance to be tested?………”

Read the full article here to learn more – bias testing


Network your way to bigger grants

A study published in PLOS ONE suggests that Researchers should ‘focus on building a strong network of contacts to improve their chances of securing funding, rather than relying solely on track records and citations.’ Publishing in Research Professional, Cristina Gallardo discusses the importance of networking and also performance.










Have you built up a strong network of contacts?  How easy is it to do this?  Do you have any advice?

Keeping mindfulness in mind

An article about mindfulness by James Brooks was published in Research Professional on 22nd July 2015.  A number of Universities run mindfulness sessions for students but there is generally less support for academics and research staff.

‘Willem Kuyken is the director of the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre. Kuyken is a clinical psychologist and, like many mindfulness researchers, he also practises the technique. But his peers outside the field tend to view mindfulness rather sceptically. “That scepticism is very healthy,” he says. “My colleagues want to see the evidence, they want to see the assumptions unpacked, they want clear definitions. That’s good.” However, he acknowledges that such scepticism makes them less likely to try it for themselves. Are they missing out on something that could help them in their jobs? Kuyken doesn’t preach. He does say, however, that mindfulness has strongly informed his approach to research: “When puzzling over data, for example, mindfulness practice can bring a different, non-analytical mode of mind to that usually employed. In that mode, I find that creative solutions can appear.”

Have you tried using mindfulness techniques?  Do they work for you? Would you like more courses to be offered in the University?