February 10, 2018 By

In an article exploring implicit gender bias, the Harvard Business Review explored the reality of this in the business world:  The article explains:

“Last year, Harvard Business Review investigated a company where women comprise only 20% of senior roles. Their goal was to find out whether differences in gender behavior explained promotion disparities. The researchers perused communication exchanges and data coming from sociometric badges that recorded interactions between employees. They hypothesized that explicit preferences such as women having fewer mentors or less facetime with managers would account for discrepancies. But as they analyzed their data, they found men and women’s work patterns and performances were indistinguishable. And yet women weren’t advancing whereas men were. What gives?

It comes down to implicit biases, the researchers concluded, which are our unconscious tendencies to favor one thing over another. Often, these mental shortcuts are morally neutral, like linking “doctor” and “nurse” and “hospital.” But connect “doctor” to “he” and “nurse” to “she,” and these associations become loaded, and can, as others have observed, have oppressive consequences.

This reality helps explain why most organizations struggle to close gender gaps: It’s not enough for women to compete and show they’re capable. Implicit attitudes must change, too. But how? Here’s where to begin:

Know what gender bias looks like

A preeminent legal scholar identifies two prominent forms of workplace bias against women: