June 17

unconscious bias

Emotional Intelligence, Unconscious Bias

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Lots continues to be written and broadcast about the apparent gender pay gap and how women have been discriminated against in terms of fairness of salary and benefits packages. BBC journalist Carrie Gracie’s resignation from a senior post in protest that a male colleague was enjoying a more favourable package really brought the gender pay gap and equality to the fore. But here is a case study which was covered by the BBC recently.

130 professors of science were asked to assist in reviewing and evaluating a cv.  All had the same information, same profile.  They all had the same information – except for the name. One half received a cv in the name of John, the other half, the name on the cv was Jennifer.

They were asked to rate the candidates competence and to recommend a starting salary.

On a Scale of 7, John was evaluated 4 in terms of his competence.

Jennifer was rated 3.

For starting salary, John was recommended a salary of $30,500

Jennifer was recommended $26,500

Remember, the individuals evaluating the cv’s were intelligent people, senior people, they had lots of experience and they would all no doubt espouse the need for and value of fairness and inclusion.  But, there was such a marked difference in their decision making, purely on the name on the cv, the gender of the applicant.  In this experiment there was no difference in decision from male and female professors.

Think of it this way. We might be biased against the people we think are biased!


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