by Karen Faaborgfaaborg184.jpg-214x300

Karen Faaborg is Professor Emeritus and a former senior-level administrator at the University of Cincinnati.

Bea Larsen’s recent Friday Moment about unconscious bias reminded me of being brought up short by the realization that I strongly associate men with science fields. This insight shocked me because I have been heavily involved for the past four years in the effort at the University of Cincinnati to significantly enhance UC’s ability to attract and retain women in science, technology, engineering, and medicine (STEM) disciplines.

Part of the training offered to senior faculty who participate in hiring and retention decisions is designed to help them become aware of unconscious bias toward men in STEM disciplines. I was deluded enough to think that I, as a woman who has spent much of her professional life supporting the success of women faculty and providing leadership in the current effort to make a significant difference for women in STEM fields, would harbor no such bias.

So, I took the Gender/Science Implicit Association Test (IAT) developed at Harvard thinking I was just finding out what the test was like; instead I found out what I am like. I’m among the 26% of persons who have taken that test who have a strong association of males with science and females with liberal arts. Recognizing this is critical to my ability to avoid unintended discriminatory behavior.

The IAT contains tests on a number of biases including race, age, and sexuality. If you are curious about any of your hidden biases you can find the IAT at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html.

One thought on “becoming aware of bias”

  1. I am happy to reply to your comment, and Ms Larson’s comment about bias. I believe I am fortunate in the fact I have been with IvyTech Community College of Indiana for 36 years as a trustee, foundation director, and real estate instructor, so I feel extremely fortunate that I have been around what I consider some of the brightest altruistic folks I could ask to be a part of my life. We have wonderful instructors and professors. Many of our adjunct instructors also teach in the Greater Cincinnati Universities. In a community college surrounding, I have found bias many times proves to be so wrong, and many times in a very funny way.

    Fall classes have just started and we are converging in the adjunct faculty room – so happy to see each other. A “new” instructor enters the room and I find as I welcome them, I am trying to guess what they teach. Often as not I am totally wrong. It is a fun game we all play. Things are seldom as they seem.

    One of my closest friends at the college is Joanne Hagedus, who instructs chemistry, earth sciences, and many other such classes. When I have a question about science, she is the one I go to first. She knows more about science and scientists than anyone I know. Then, on the liberal arts side, many are males and I can tell you, the males who teach liberal arts are very passionate about what they do, and they will quickly correct me when I make a mistake in writing something – I don’t want any of them to see these comments because one of them will surely correct me on something.

    Since I became acquainted with Beyond Civility thru Tom Osterman, who I met at a Christmas Concert at St. Johns Unitarian Church last year, it has become a highlight of my life and I have forwarded your messages all around the country to my friends.
    Thank you for expanding my life in many ways.

    Leigh Allen

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