Approaches To Reducing Gender Bias
Implicit bias can be reduced and avoided at various levels and through various measures: The support of the management level of an organization is necessary in order to recognize and anchor the topic as a task and challenge for the entire organization. In addition, structural measures are needed at various levels, which must be accompanied by constant monitoring. These measures should be supplemented by anti-bias training.
Strategies and methods for the reduction and avoidance of bias are presented in the following papers:
- LERU League of European research universities (2018): Implicit bias in academia: a challenge to the meritocratic principle and to women’s careers – And what to do about it
- European Commission, Directorate-General for Research (2017): Implicit Gender Biases during Evaluations. How to Raise Awareness and Change Attitudes? Workshop Report
- NSF National Science Foundation (2016): Reducing the Impact of Bias in the STEM Workforce. Strengthening Excellence and Innovation
- ECU Equality Challenge Unit (2013): Unconscious bias and higher education
- Council of Canadian Academies (2012): Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension. The Expert Panel on Women in University Research
In addition to these detailed handouts for the scientific field, the German platform Anti-Bias and the ‘Chefsache’ Initiative also present measures to reduce bias in the selection of personnel in companies.
In “Reducing Gender Biases In Modern Workplaces: A Small Wins Approach to Organizational Change” (2017), Correll presents in detail those studies that investigate the effectiveness of training and formalized organizational processes for reducing bias.
Studies on the successes of trainings display different results. Guglielmi (2018) reveals in her study “Gender bias goes away when grant reviewers focus on the science” that training reviewers to recognize unconscious biases seems to correct this imbalance. Anti-bias language in the student evaluation for teaching can reduce gender bias, as Peterson et al. (2019) show in their study “Mitigating gender bias in student evaluations of teaching”.
When recruiting personnel at universities, bias is proven in performance evaluations and in interviews. In order to identify and reduce these, institutes and initiatives have published numerous videos (see also the page video material) as well as manuals and checklists.
- The Equal Opportunities Office of the University of Heidelberg provides a series of online tutorials on gender bias in appointment procedures. Module 2 explicitly informs about criteria for performance evaluations and about bias patterns as well as recommendations for avoiding gender bias in performance evaluations. You can download the corresponding PDFs in addition to the three modules on the university’s website. [14:39 min]
- A brochure from the University of Konstanz provides a brief introduction to gender bias in academia with a checklist for counseling and expert reports.
- A manual for commissions and panels on academic careers and gender bias at the University of Vienna describes gender bias in subject cultures as well as in networks, publications, selection procedures and funding, reconciling work and family life as well as mobility.
- In the Best Practices Recruiting Guide for UNL, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln provides a compact guide as well as examples of formal and informal recruiting letters.
- In STRIDE Faculty Search Resources: Conducting an Equitable Faculty Search the ADVANCE Office of Faculty Development at Northeastern University explains the individual steps of the search process. In Guidance for Conducting Interviews in Faculty Searches the spectrum of legally permissible questions for job interviews is shown in tabular form.
- The brochure Reviewing Applicants. Research on Bias and Assumptions published by WISELI (Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute University of Wisconsin-Madison) contains both bias examples from the application assessment process and recommendations to reduce them. In addition to this compact version, the detailed manual version Searching for Excellence & Diversity is also available.
- In nine chapters, the detailed manual Searching For Excellence. Evidence-Based Strategies for Equitable and Inclusive Faculty Hiring at UCLA University of California provides information on the search process from the search committee’s composition to welcoming the new colleague.
- The platform Anti-Bias uses a checklist to identify criteria for business and science at the institutional level for implementing an anonymous application procedure. With regard to the individual level, the platform provides a collection of study results on bias during the selection interview as well as counter-strategies for the members of search committees (Links provide information in German).
The following materials can be downloaded and provide further information as well as action strategies which address executives and members of search committees. The materials are meant to be short in order to facilitate their use in professional practice.
- The concise handout Avoiding gender bias in reference writing of the University of Arizona shows strategies for preparing bias-free reference letters for students and staff.
- Under Evaluation Nudge, the Anti-Bias platform provides a condensed summary of the behavioral intervention of comparison in the decision-making process of personnel selection, i.e. of the Evaluation Nudge according to Bohnet et al. (2012) and supplements it with a brief checklist. The 5 steps against unconscious prejudices also show how to take action against bias on an individual level. The page Anti-Bias in Human Resources informs about strategies at an institutional level on how to counteract unconscious bias (Links provide information in German).
- The Self Starting Guide of the NDSU North Dakota State University contains a compilation of diverse interventions and resources to address gender bias in practice. In addition to search processes, the focus is on resource development for advocates and allies. The materials are kept short for practical reasons.
- In the panel Women, Diversity and Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities, organized by an alliance of Hunter College, FTI Women’s Initiative and others, five experts discuss how mentoring for women of color and migrant women should be designed to overcome existing discrimination of race, class and gender on the way to leadership positions.
On the video material page (see “Introduction”), you will also find an overview of the specific questions that need to be addressed in the field of science and research in order to identify and reduce bias.