Yesterday, we talked about Nextdoor, and how simple, but clear, conversational prompts in an online user interface may be instrumental in helping otherwise well-meaning people become aware of some of their ingrained prejudices before they do or say something dumb. In the case of Nextdoor, the prompts were specifically designed to curb racial profiling in the safety forums in the neighborhood-focused social network.
Could something similar work in real life?
I asked two researchers from the University of Colorado, David Hekman and Stefanie Johnson for their thoughts. Hekman is an associate professor and Johnson is an assistant professor, both of management and entrepreneurship at CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. Both separately and together, they’ve been conducting original research on how bias works and how to interrupt its influence.
It turns out that simply making people aware of bias, particularly when it’s obvious, is enough to make it disappear, at least in the moment.
Johnson cites some of her research using women applying for typically male jobs. She used the example of truck driving. “Let’s say a woman comes in for an interview, which is unusual,” she says. “The man interviewing her is now thinking about how she’s a woman and nothing else. He’s thinking, ‘Huh, should I tell her she’s a woman? Should I mention it?’ — and not considering her qualifications.” But her research shows that if the candidate, or someone advocating for her brings it up — ‘I know I don’t look like your typical candidate, but…’ — it almost uniformly breaks the reverie.
“It gives people a chance to move past the bias,” Johnson says.
It’s now broadly understood that if you have only one non-majority candidate on a list of finalists for a particular position — one woman or person of color — they will almost never be hired. “They tend not to even pay attention to how qualified that person is,” says Johnson, of her research with Hekman on the subject.
If you have at least two, however, the token bias tends to disappear. And their research showed another surprising outcome. “What’s crazy is that the people who are the most racist and sexist [as determined in pre-study testing] are the most positively affected by this manipulation,” says Hekman.
But it will take serious work to break the bigger cycles of bias.
Some of their other recent research, published this past March in the Harvard Business Review, showed that women or people of color who promote or advocate for each other tend to be penalized, which impacts their careers. “Our set of studies suggest that it’s risky for low-status group members to help others like them,” they wrote. “And this can lead to women and minorities choosing not to advocate for other women and minorities once they reach positions of power, as they don’t want to be perceived as incompetent, poor performers.”
So, white men, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
“The best people to advocate are white men,” says Hekman. “They get penalized far less.”
Their advocacy has a ripple effect that can help everyone move past their biases. White male leaders need to bring diversity goals to the attention of others early and often. “Just acknowledging race and gender before decisions are made will help,” Hekman says. “Other people will be less biased in their judgments. And it matters that it comes from the top.”
|Donald Trump to meet with Mexican president for a quick visit|
|The republican nominee will head down to Mexico in a hastily planned visit with President Enrique Peña Nieto today, just hours before he is to give a speech clarifying his policies on immigration. The candidate confirmed the meeting via tweet yesterday. The two men have been sniping at each other for while now. Suggested topics: Who will pay for the wall? Is Trump more like Hitler or Mussolini? Should be a lively meeting.|
|Lead contamination forces 1,100 Indiana residents from their homes|
|The West Calumet Housing Complex in Indiana is part of a relatively poor, primarily black working class neighborhood just south of Chicago and north of a former smelting operation. Neither state officials, nor the E.P.A, told residents that their yards contained 30 times the amount of lead that is considered safe for children. The complex has been suddenly scheduled for demolition and the residents are scrambling to find new homes.|
|New York Times|
|Katy Perry did not coin the term “misogynoir”|
|During the most recent resurgence of harassment against comedic actor Leslie Jones, Katy Perry tweeted her support using a supremely woke term: “Do not give your eyeballs to this racist, hate-filled, misogynoir crime I #StandWithLeslie.” Although Perry is now credited with making the term “mainstream,” misogynoir was created by professor Moya Bailey to describe a specific way racism and misogyny combine to oppress black women.|
|Access to mental health care varies by race or class because of biased therapists|
|A new study from the sociology department in Princeton shows that working class people were less likely than middle class ones to be accepted when calling for an appointment, with black patients even less likely than whites ones. “Although we expected to see evidence of racial and class-based discrimination, the magnitude of discrimination against working-class therapy seekers, in particular, exceeded our grimmest expectations,” said the author. All callers were covered by the same insurance.|
The Woke Leader
|Cool teacher is going to make fourth grade fun|
|If you’re looking for some inspiration coming from the public school system — or just some inspiration — then look no further than this “Welcome to School” video created by Dwayne Reed, a first time fourth grade teacher. Reed wrote and performed a rap song for the kids, while his YouTube post also works as a mini-funder for the Jane Stenson School in Skokie, Ill. It’s also a one-man commercial for diversity in teaching. Trust me, you’re gonna have a good time. Go Lions!|
|A McDonald’s fry cook retires, a community shows their love|
|It’s easy to think about diversity in the workplace as a set of goals and numbers. But in 1984, when young Freia David, who has Down syndrome, passed her six-month training at the McDonald’s in Needham, Mass., it was a miracle for her worried, immigrant family. Now, 32 years and a million pounds of fries later, David needs to retire for health reasons, and a community celebrates her life and the spirit of inclusion. Bring tissues.|
|Safe spaces at college are a necessity for some, argues graduate|
|Last week, the University of Chicago sent a pointed letter to incoming freshman denouncing both “trigger warnings” and “intellectual ‘safe spaces,’” and declaring their commitment to both academic freedom and freedom of expression. But Cameron Okeke, a UChicago recent graduate, says the move is designed to shield the college from the real issues of harassment, sexual assault and racial profiling.|