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I might be biased against women in the workplace

Posted by Meg Bear on December 24, 2009


Oh my goodness.  I still can’t really believe it myself but it seems it’s true.  It appears that I have a personal bias that suggests that career more closely aligns with men and family more closely aligns with women.

Maybe this should not surprise me, since I care deeply about both, but somehow feel I should get extra credit for having grown other humans in my body, my personal trump card in the gender equality [superiority] game.

How did I get here?  To the idea of taking a test to check for bias?

I was from reading  James Chartrand’s confession that he was a woman writing under a  pen name.  Such a well written and deeply personal story of gender bias blew my mind.  I just could not believe that in this day and age this could still be happening.

But, of course,  there are countless studies that say it is, I just figured it was only things like boards of directors in places like the UK and California, not bias against something as basic as your name.

And yet, I gave my daughter a gender neutral name.

I decided to try to test myself to see where I stood in the whole bias discussion.  Not only did the results tell me I am biased, I felt it taking the test.  I could literally feel my brain working much harder to resolve those questions that had career and female together.  Ick!

I must admit I’m still shaken by the result.

We have to face the reality that we are biased.  Each and every one of us.  In America, we are most frequently biased by age, race, height, gender and even attractiveness.

The irony is, that for most of us we really don’t mean to be.  We honestly think that we see everyone as equal but the evidence does not support that. The reality is, that we see the world based upon our own personal experiences.  Our world view is closely tied to what we have seen, what we have experienced, and what we have been exposed to personally.

Social scientists suggest that the key to reworking bias, is experience.  In other words we need to continue to have more role models and we need to continue to see change.

Seeing examples helps us better establish those relationship pairings in our brains that are so strongly rooted in our being. It is entirely possible, that my girls will have a more gender neutral view of the word career.

Or, at least, I hope so.

If you are interested to test yourself here is the link

5 Responses to “I might be biased against women in the workplace”

  1. Amy Wilson said

    Hi Meg – Thanks for this. I just took the test and I had little to no association amongst the categories. I think that I serve as the exception that proves the rule in your case above – my personal experience was unique. For example, I struggled with the survey question that asked about my primary caregiver as a child. I chose my mother because she was home with me for my first 2 years. But after that (and when I was old enough to notice), duties were split fairly evenly. My father was more likely to take me with him to work or stay home with me when I was sick. His job (as a college professor) was more flexible than my mothers as a medical professional and then high school teacher.

    Likewise, my current family structure is that I work and my husband takes care of the home. This is the ideal situation for me and something I “planned for” as a kid. It is a model that we hope others will choose to emulate in the future.

  2. Oh, well. How you are biased is one thing, how you behave is another.

    • Meg Bear said

      very very true. And yet, knowing the risk of bias, you can put a plan in place to mitigate risks. Especially in the cases of hiring, promotion, etc.

  3. [...] do believe that there is bias at play, but I think that, in general, it is not a practice discrimination against women that [...]

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