How Women Can Overcome Bias at Work


[MUSIC] We’re in a period right now that
gender scholars have called the Stalled Gender Revolution. And what this means,
if you look at all kinds of data, what you see is in the 1970s we
started to see a rapid closing, and narrowing of gender inequality. So the gender wage gap, for example,
starts to go down rapidly in the 1970s. More women are flooding in the paid labor,
women are being promoted. You get to the 1980s,
progress is still being made. Although it’s a little bit slower,
and by the time we hit the mid 90s, change has kind of flattened out. So things aren’t getting worse, but we haven’t seen a lot of progress in
the move towards gender equality lately. So we’re a bit stuck and my take on that, the reason that we’re
stuck is that we haven’t effectively changed work enough to accommodate
who’s actually in our workplaces today. And then, once we do that we’re going to see a jump
start towards more gender equality [MUSIC] One thing that we know is stereotypes
do limit women’s advancement. But they do so not because people
necessarily have explicit stereotypes about men versus women, but
that they have more unconscious or implicit kind of associations about what
men are like and what women are like. And those implicit associations then
affect how we see someone’s performance, how we judge their behavior and
can creates sort of slight differences and the ways that we’ve been evaluate men and
women in the workplace. So this unconscious and explicit advice is
I think are one of the biggest barriers that we’re still up against today, when we think about how we can
move more women into leadership. Often we have two narrow
of a conception of leaders. Leaders are these autocratic kind of
to risk taking sort of people, and our stereotypes of that leaders about leaders
overlap with our stereotypes about man. Such that men often look naturally
more leader like to us, but if we broad in this stereotypes of
leadership, that creates a more expansive view of leadership and one in which women
are likely to be seen as more successful. So if stereotypes are causing us to see
some people as more talented than they are and other people as less talented
than they are, it’s interfering with the goal of being truly meritocratic and
is blocking innovation. [MUSIC] In what ways can we introduce policies,
and procedures, and tools into the workplace that cause
people, once stereotypes creep into their head, to be aware of that, and
stop and move beyond the stereotypes? So the goal is rather than relying
on some stereotype about how men and women are, we would instead have
some sort of procedure in place, that would allow us to more effectively
evaluate the true talents and abilities of people and therefore block
the effects of bias among judgments. We have to help people first see biases. So I do a lot of work with teaching people
about the way that stereotypes work. Because until you see how stereotypes
work, you’re not going to be aware of how it could be affecting your judgement, and
I should just add, just to be clear here is that the stereotypes affect all of
our judgments, women as well as men. We see that very clearly. You’ve rarely find that a situation where
men are lot more biased than women. These are unconscious stereotypes. We have to help people see them first so
that seeing bias is kind of key. [MUSIC] One of things that has been really
encouraging to me in this work is how many really well intentioned
people there are out there. Men and women who want to get beyond bias. So the question is can
we help them do that? So what I’ve been doing is working with a lot of different companies
to help them create tools. And so, we have some ideas about
the kinds of things that work in general. So for example, we know that when
people have clear criteria for say a promotion decision,
that’s very clearly articulated. And I read and study that criteria
before they evaluate job applicants, stereotypes are much less likely
to affect their judgments. One thing that we noticed that
when people are making decisions is sometimes the criteria they use
to judge people will shift around depending upon whether they’re
evaluating a woman or a man. I saw a great example that comes from
psychology, shows that when people were evaluating psychology faculty they
were way more likely to say, well, I would need to see if she was a good
teacher before I could hire her. But that criteria hadn’t been raised
when they were evaluating a man so it’s a perfectly legitimate criteria. You would want a professor
to be a good teacher, but it was being applied much more
heavily to women than to men. So one of our tools is for someone in the group to be noticing
when new criteria are being raised. And to say something like,
if we’re going to consider teaching I think we should go back and
consider that for all of the candidates. So that we’re using the same criteria. That too blocks the use of stereotypes. So there’s a variety of kinds of things
like that, that we can do to not eliminate the unconscious stereotypes that
are happening in our heads but to block their negative effects and to be sure that we’re evaluating people
by criteria and not by stereotypes [MUSIC] Imagine a company wants to say
do better on its diversity and inclusion indicators and
the CEO comes out and says, this is one of our main priorities, and
we’re really want to work hard on this. And that’s great, they had that kind of
support from the toughest essential, but what we find is that support from
the top kind of trickles down. And it’s affecting sort of managers
at kind of higher levels, but once it gets to kind of the mid level of
the organization, it often gets stuck. So we got this CEO supporting
change at the top, you’ve got people at the bottom
that are agitating for change, but you get to that middle level, and
that’s what we called the frozen middle. It’s a place where organizational change
often gets stuck specially in diversity and inclusion. And so,
our goal in working on these projects, is to really try work
at that frozen middle. That is to develop these
tools to block bias by working directly with people managers. And by working directly with people
managers, what we are hoping to do is enlisting down and the support of
creating the tools helps create buyer, at that level we’re changed,
otherwise get stuck. [MUSIC] There’s something that’s actually
really quite easy to do and that is we can share the accomplishments
of other women in our networks at work. One thing that we know is that stereotypes
cause women to be seen as less confident than they actually are. And that’s what limits
women’s advancement. Women can’t fix this problem themselves. You can’t as a woman, if people
aren’t noticing your accomplishments, you can’t just say,
I’m brilliant, for example. There’d be all kinds of
backlash directed at you. But one thing that we can do is
taut other women’s accomplishments. So I think being very mindful of giving
attention the accomplishments of women in the organization is hugely important. So individuals can do this. Organizations as well, I think. Announcing through department
newsletters and things like that, the accomplishments of their women
employees are crucially important for raising those women’s status and for
starting to fracture the stereotypes that we have that are leading us to cause us to
see women as less competent then they are. [MUSIC]

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