Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Unconscious Bias Awareness Raising

Unconscious Bias Awareness Raising

Page updated 6 January 2022

This webpage is intended to provide you with an overview of what we mean by Unconscious Bias and how it can impact decision making and actions. Below you will find some definitions and links to useful resources such as slides, video clip and articles.

Definitions

"Unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgements and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences. Implicit bias refers to the same area but questions the level to which these biases are unconscious especially as we are being made increasingly aware of them. Once we know that biases are not always explicit, we are responsible for them. We all need to recognise and acknowledge our biases and find ways to mitigate their impact on our behaviour and decisions.” Equality Challenge Unit UK: Unconscious Bias in Higher Education Review 2013.

Further definitions can be found on a website about The Nature of Unconscious Bias by Shire professional Chartered Psychologists.

Unconscious bias can become problematic when deep-seated prejudices absorbed due to living in an unequal society affect our actions, for instance leading to assumptions about competence and aptitude based on gender. In interview settings, unconscious bias manifests itself in the tendency of hiring managers to select candidates who are similar to them, which is why diversity on assessment panels is essential. People who are committed to equality also experience unconscious bias. 

Resources

Slides

The following five slides provide further insight into Unconscious Bias. These slides are a snapshot of the Unconscious Bias awareness raising programme developed by Dr Pete Jones, Shire Consulting. Dr Jones was contracted by Trinity College Dublin under funding provided by the HEA National Athena SWAN Committee to deliver a programme to representatives from the Higher Education Institutions. Please click here to access: Slides on Unconscious Bias

Video Clips

The Royal Society provides a 3-minute video clip that introduces the key concepts of unconscious bias.

Google also developed a short video clip about making Unconscious Bias at Work conscious. 

Inspiring the Future - Redraw the Balance - This is a film from Mullen Lowe London and provocatively captures how, early on in their education, children already define career opportunities as male and female. When asked to draw a firefighter, surgeon and a fighter pilot, 61 pictures were drawn of men and only 5 were female.

Dr Pete Jones outlines the science behind unconscious bias in this 23-minute video clip.

Articles

Equality Challenge Unit (2013) “Understanding Unconscious Bias

Alexandra Kallv, Erin Kelly, and Frank Dobbin, Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Programs, American Sociological Review 71 (2006) 589-617. 

Atewologun, Doyin, Cornish, Tinu, Tres, Fatima, Unconscious Bias Training: An assessment of the evidence for effectiveness 

League of European Research Universities: Implicit Bias in Academia

Recommendations

If you wish to organise a face-to-face Unconscious Bias Awareness Raising sessions in your School or Unit, the following consultants are recommended:

  1. SEVEN psychology http://www.seven.ie/what-seven-offers/what-seven-offers-individuals 
  2. Pearn Kandola  https://www.pearnkandola.com/
  3. Melrona Kirrane https://business.dcu.ie/dcubs/people/melrona-kirrane.shtml

Background

UCD held a national conference in Spring 2019 to explore the impact and effectiveness of Unconscious Bias training on the elimination of discrimination. Outputs from the conference informed a holistic approach to address conscious and unconscious biases, including embedding awareness raising as part of training courses and an Unconscious Bias pilot session delivered to senior leaders in UCD. UCD have committed to delivering Unconscious Bias awareness raising sessions for all assessment panels in 2022.

Contact UCD Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 4933 | E: edi@ucd.ie