Faculty & Staff Development Readings: Bias

Resource guides on subjects that support the work of faculty.


Readings developed in support of the webinar Unconscious Bias: The Hidden Barrier.  Faculty/staff workshop offered on March 8, 2016.


Thuraisingham, Meena, and Wolfgang Lehmacher. The Secret Life of Decisions: How Unconscious Bias Subverts Your Judgement. Farnham, Surrey, England: Gower, 2013.

Meads, Joy. "What Lies Beneath The Surface." American Theatre 32.8 (2015): 48-50.
The article offers the author's insights on the social aspects of gender inequality. Topics discussed include the theater industry in the U.S., the book "Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives," by Howard Ross, and the social aspects of racial discrimination. Also mentioned are the complexity of human mind and the social conditions of women.

"Diversity Training Boosts Productivity." T+D. August 2006;60(8):18.

O’Brien, Katherine R., et al. "How To Break The Cycle Of Low Workforce Diversity: A Model For Change." Plos ONE 10.7 (2015): 1-15.
Social justice concerns but also perceived business advantage are behind a widespread drive to increase workplace diversity. However, dominance in terms of ethnicity, gender or other aspects of diversity has been resistant to change in many sectors. The different factors which contribute to low diversity are often hotly contested and difficult to untangle. We propose that many of the barriers to change arise from self-reinforcing feedbacks between low group diversity and inclusivity. Using a dynamic model, we demonstrate how bias in employee appointment and departure can trap organizations in a state with much lower diversity than the applicant pool: a workforce diversity “poverty trap”. Our results also illustrate that if turnover rate is low, employee diversity takes a very long time to change, even in the absence of any bias. The predicted rate of change in workforce composition depends on the rate at which employees enter and leave the organization, and on three measures of inclusion: applicant diversity, appointment bias and departure bias. Quantifying these three inclusion measures is the basis of a new, practical framework to identify barriers and opportunities to increasing workforce diversity. Because we used a systems approach to investigate underlying feedback mechanisms rather than context-specific causes of low workforce diversity, our results are applicable across a wide range of settings. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Plaut, Victoria. "Inviting Everyone In." Scientific American 311.4 (2014): 52-57.
The article discusses strategies for bringing diversity to the workplace or classroom. Topics include common misconceptions that interfere with the creation of a more inclusive work or class environment, a study by the author and her colleagues on the impact on employees of color when white employees ignored ethnic differences, the role of unconscious bias, studied by Jennifer A. Richeson and colleagues, and the importance of the ways diversity efforts are structured within organizations.

CANIDA II, ROBERT L., and ADRIEL A. HILTON. "Diversity Within The Academy: Where Is The Balance?." Diverse: Issues In Higher Education 30.10 (2013): 28.
The article offers information on diversity among faculty members in campuses. The author says that when compared to student diversity, faculty diversity in campuses are far behind, with at most 14% of the total faculty are those of color and many among them have claimed to have experienced some form of racial or ethnic bias at work. The article also notes the effect of the imbalance between the racial and ethnic diversity of students and that of their teachers on student performance.

Lublin, Joann S. "Do You Know Your Hidden Work Biases?" Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition ed.Jan 10 2014. ProQuest. Web. 2 Mar. 2016 .
The article discusses unconscious biases that can influence decision-making at large firms with diversified work forces, and efforts by companies to overcome them. Defense contractor BAE Systems Inc. is among U.S. companies with training programs aimed at identifying and overcoming bias. Margaret Regan of diversity consulting firm FutureWork Institute says bias training is much sought after.

Bartlett, Katharine T. "Making Good On Good Intentions: The Critical Role Of Motivation In Reducing Implicit Workplace Discrimination." Virginia Law Review 95.8 (2009): 1893-1972.
Discrimination in today's workplace is largely implicit, making it ambiguous and often very difficult to prove. Employment discrimination scholars have proposed reforms of Title VII to make implicit discrimination easier to establish in court and to expand the kinds of situations to which liability attaches. The reform proposals reflect a broad consensus that strong legal norms are crucial to addressing the problem. Yet it is mistaken to assume that strengthening plaintiffs' hands in implicit discrimination cases will necessarily achieve the long-term goal of reducing its occurrence. This Article brings together several strands of social science research showing that (1) implicit bias is not only invisible and largely unintended, but not readily reachable through legal coercion; (2) people whose motivation to act in nondiscriminatory ways is based on an internal commitment to nondiscriminatory norms--or "good intentions"--are less likely to engage in stereotyping of others than people who feel pressured by the law; (3) people internalize nondiscrimination values best when they feel a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness; (4) the conditions that support these characteristics in the workplace include strong, unambiguous norms, trust, teamwork, leadership, positive example, and opportunities to grow and advance; and (5) excessive legal control and pressure undermine people's sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness and thus their commitment to nondiscrimination norms. When legal pressure becomes overkill is not a matter of exact science, and is complicated by differences among people and workplace cultures. Still, before fashioning further legal tools that assume that more coercion is the answer to implicit discrimination, this Article suggests that more attention be given to the negative impact of such tools and to alternative measures that may better motivate people's adherence to nondiscrimination norms. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


More resources on appearance based bias.

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More resources on Psychological Aspects of Discrimination.