In understanding social justice, it is important to develop an understanding of how bias impacts our interaction with the world.
To start with, here is a short video about bias
- Case Study
A research study on racial and gender bias in faculty mentorship
In 2014, Katherine Milkman, University of Pennsylvania; Modupe Akinola, Columbia University; and Dolly Chugh, New York University published a study they conducted in order to try and measure the rate in which faculty members responded to requests by students for professional mentorship.
They sent over 6,500 identical emails to over 250 colleges and universities in the United States asking about advice on graduate school. The only difference between the emails were the student names that the emails were sent from. The names were chosen to attempt to denote implied biases across gendered and racial lines. These names included "Brad Anderson," "LaToya Brown," and "Juan Gonzalez." The researchers then tracked the response rate from faculty members.
They found that there was significant disaparities between gender and racial groups. Faculty members would respond to white males more frequently than female sounding names or Black, Latinx, or Asian sounding names.
Link to related news article: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2014/04/discrimination-starts-even-before-grad-school-study-finds.html
Link to paper: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2063742
This study shows that one small factor of academic success, direct mentorship and guidance, demonstrated unconscious bias. Researchers theorized that although only one small factor, academic success would be impacted by a variety of compounding biases.
- Reflection Activity
In order to have a better understanding of your own areas of bias, here are a few questions to reflect on. It will be helpful to write down your reflections in a journal or on a document.
What is a rule that you grew up with around your family or guardians that is unique to your household? How would you explain this rule to others who aren't familiar with it?
What were some of your favorite TV shows growing up? What were some of your favorite books growing up? In those pieces of media, did the main characters live in households that looked like yours or differently than yours? What did you learn from those characters about what is a normal way to live?
What are some actions that you would like to take to educate yourself further on your own bias? Think about a timeline, how you would continue the reflection process, and how you would continue your research.
- Further Exploration
NPR - Understanding Unconscious Bias
Decoded | MTV News - Why Do You Think Stereotypes Are True? (YouTube link)
Kendra Cherry - How Confirmation Bias Works