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Addressing Unconscious Bias in Higher Education

Whether you like it or not, everyone has bias. The way we perceive the world is influenced by the environments in which we grew up, cultural norms, and the people we surround ourselves with. Many of these factors act upon our behavior without our knowledge, leading us to do things that would appall our conscious mind, such as treat a colleague differently because of his race, or overlook a talented candidate for a job because of stereotypes about her ability. Unconscious bias is with us every day, and it affects our capacity to achieve equity – particularly in higher ed.

There are promising solutions in the works. Providing unconscious bias training to faculty and staff may reduce discrimination and mitigate the impact of bias at the university. Although evidence-based training models exist, effective implementation of those models is critical. Some universities have found that mandatory training can incite backlash, while voluntary training is unlikely to reach those who need it most. In addition, not all biases can be addressed at once; separate trainings are needed for racial bias, gender bias, disability bias, etc.

If you’re interested in learning more about emerging strategies for reducing unconscious bias, we invite you to join us for a webinar, co-hosted by USU/APLU and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This webinar is part of a series intended to stimulate discussion and engage university leaders around topics from the recent report Increasing Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce: Actions for Improving Evidence, supported by the National Institutes of Health. During this webinar, experts on unconscious bias training will share evidence from their research, describe effective models, and discuss challenges for implementation. The speakers will also discuss remaining research gaps that limit the applicability of unconscious bias interventions across different contexts (e.g., admissions) and next steps for expanding the use of this promising practice.

The webinar will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Click here to register.

Speakers include:

  1. Laura Castillo-Page, Ph.D., Acting Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Senior Director, Diversity Policies and Programs, Association of American Medical Colleges

  2. Brian Gibbs, Ph.D., MPA, Vice President, Equity & Inclusion, Oregon Health and Science University

  3. Janetta Lun, Ph.D., Senior Behavioral Scientist, National Institutes of Health

  4. Janice Sabin, Ph.D., MSW, Research Associate Professor, University of Washington Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, and Affiliated Faculty, University of Washington School of Medicine Center for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The event will be of interest to university leaders and administrators, chairs of faculty search committees and admissions committees, diversity professionals, and faculty interested in exploring unconscious/implicit bias training as a strategy to diversify the STEM and biomedical science workforce. We hope you will join us on January 13!


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