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.