#blog

Let’s Recognise Our Unconscious Biases And Address Them

gender biases, gender norms, man vs woman leadership, canadian senate

I cringe every time I have to call at my son’s school and they address me as Mrs Husband’s Surname. Also, in times, when during an expensive purchase, the person behind the counter politely says, ma’am, you can take your time to consult with your husband. Honestly, now I use the same trick for all the junk calls which are trying to sell me those useless policies and credit cards.

Key Takeaways

  • We all have unconscious biases; we all abide by certain racial or gender stereotypes without even acknowledging their existence.
  • Biases are formed due to parental or societal conditioning.
  • Women are guilty of believing that men do not have the same level of empathy as we do.
  • We need to keep asking ourselves whether our decisions are governed by the stereotypes that affect us or are we being fair.

I don’t have an issue with using my husband’s name or his surname, I am a part of that family in sickness and in health. Also, I don’t have a problem with people who adopt the surname of the family they are married into because whichever surname you choose to use it only traces you to a male bloodline. So I am not even fighting that battle. My issue is with the unconscious bias, which allows you to generalize things, especially in a place like a school. Isn’t a school is a place which should teach people to question the norms?  Ironically in most cases in India, it is a place dominated by working women but instead of coming together and breaking these traditional moulds they decide to internalize these biases and follow them.

In most cases in India, it is a place dominated by working women but instead of coming together and breaking these traditional moulds they decide to internalize these biases and follow them.

 We all have unconscious biases; we all abide by certain racial or gender stereotypes without even acknowledging their existence. We all know there is unconscious, if not conscious, gender bias at play during recruitment, at boardrooms, in giving women senior management roles, in giving women especially new or expecting mothers promotions. Recently, the Central government told the apex court that women may not be suitable for command posts in the Army because male troops are not prepared to accept women officers. Did they introspect that the need is perhaps to sensitize the male troops and not penalize the women? Our unconscious bias is in calling Esther Duflo a noble laureates wife and not an economist deserving of the award in her own right. Every day we see our political leaders in a foot in the mouth situation which is nothing but their unconscious bias speaking.

Also Read: How Unconscious Gender Bias In Ads Continue to Contribute to Misogyny

The office of Diversity and Outreach, University of California San Francisco defines Unconscious biases or implicit bias as “social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.”

Recently, the Central government told the apex court that women may not be suitable for command posts in the Army because male troops are not prepared to accept women officers. Did they introspect that the need is perhaps to sensitize the male troops and not penalize the women?

Biases are formed due to parental or societal conditioning. They are governed by our cultural norms. We are all guilty of perpetuating them when we hand over pink to a girl and blue to a boy, or when we call daughters our sons. When we tell boys it’s okay if they don’t want to enter the kitchen. When we label women as bad drivers by default. Or when we say women are bad with numbers. Aren’t women guilty of believing that men do not have the same level of empathy as we do? Not all men do. Unconscious bias is also when we buy a product only because our favourite actor endorses it.

Also Read: We Need Our Own Sisterhood To Call Out Unconscious Bias: Indra Nooyi

Yes, it can’t be so easy to recognise and call out something which is so intrinsically a part of us but we can try and introspect. Acknowledge that potential for our prejudices to be hardwired into our system is pretty high here. We need to keep asking ourselves whether our decisions are governed by the stereotypes that affect us or are we being fair. Let’s give conversations a new direction.

The views expressed are the author’s own.