Understanding unconscious bias

The Royal Society has published a video on You Tube discussing unconscious bias‘This animation introduces the key concepts of unconscious bias. It forms part of the Royal Society’s efforts to ensure that all those who serve on Royal Society selection and appointment panels are aware of differences in how candidates may present themselves, how to recognise bias in yourself and others, how to recognise inappropriate advocacy or unreasoned judgement.’


100 Women 2015: How can we stop unconscious bias?


‘We can’t avoid making snap decisions about other people. Who is powerful or weak? Who is caring or aggressive? Who is trustworthy and who is competent? Our gut instincts are riddled with flaws that are so predictable they have been studied and even named. Perhaps the most intriguing bias of all is that we tend to assume that everyone else is more susceptible to having biases than we are……………’



Research Councils announce an unconscious bias training programme for peer reviewers and funding decision-makers

The Research Councils have announced on their website that they are ‘launching a new programme for all peer reviewers and decision-makers to raise awareness and reduce the impact of unconscious bias. Over a period of three years, beginning in January 2016, more than 1,300 people involved in peer review from all seven Research Councils will be given access to high quality training…..’


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