unconscious bias in academia

posted
30-Jan-18, 21:36
by helebon
Avatar for helebon
posted about 2 years ago
I've come across bias and unconscious bias from academic staff and wondered if it is fairly common?

It was in the news today about gender bias in the general population, but I was wondering about in academia.

For example, students who did fairly well at their undergraduate degree, or those that didn't do so well. They are 'known students' to academic staff if the student goes on to a masters at the same university. I can see unconscious bias occurring for assignments where the students name is not withheld.

What do you think? thanks
posted
31-Jan-18, 08:33
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
Yes of course this happens. It's hard to be objective when you're marking work of people you know. Most academics are aware of this and try to moderate their marks accordingly e.g. "am I being harsh because this person is really annoying" or "am I being too generous being this person is usually really good/I like them". There's no perfect system.
posted
01-Feb-18, 12:55
edited about 15 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
Academic work should always be marked with the names sealed off where possible to prevent this type of thing.
It is more difficult to be biased in STEM subjects because the student either knows how to do something or they dont. In that context, bias will have a marginal effect. I imagine in the humanities, bias could be disastrous.

In the wider world, bias is actively encouraged and can be a good thing. We are all encouraged to network for example. People buy from people they know. Who you know can matter much more than what you know. I have been on both sides of that.
Of course we can debate about the fairness of that but the cold hard reality is that life is not, has not and never will be built on fairness. Being the "best person for the job" doesn't really make sense for the vast majority of jobs if you think about it.

Anyway, I am waffling. For grading at university, bias has no place and there are easy ways to prevent it.
posted
01-Feb-18, 15:19
edited about 29 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From pm133:


Anyway, I am waffling. For grading at university, bias has no place and there are easy ways to prevent it.


For general student work yes, but not for project students or masters students when you know whose work you are marking because you know the project.
posted
01-Feb-18, 15:51
edited about 10 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Quote From pm133:


Anyway, I am waffling. For grading at university, bias has no place and there are easy ways to prevent it.


For general student work yes, but not for project students or masters students when you know whose work you are marking because you know the project.


Yes of course, I forgot about those scenarios.
posted
02-Feb-18, 05:08
edited about 7 minutes later
by helebon
Avatar for helebon
posted about 2 years ago
It does make me think.. it's things to consider when choosing a supervisor.
There's an article on radio 4 today about:

Why are even women biased against women?

Mary Ann Sieghart
Women are sexist too: even avowed feminists are found to be unconsciously biased against women.

The last paragraph is interesting:

".... Yale researchers, sent job applications and CVs for a lab manager post to male and female science professors. The applications were identical, except that half were given a man’s name and the other half, a woman’s.

And guess what? The professors – both male and female – said that the man’s application was better, that they were more likely to hire him and more likely to mentor him. And they offered him a substantially higher salary. "

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/312fXcsr5T1V9p509XNMYC4/why-are-even-women-biased-against-women
posted
02-Feb-18, 09:31
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 years ago
For me, some of it comes from not being a "typical" woman. I've got no preference over who I manage, therefore who I would hire, men or women. But when it comes to who I work with, or who manages me, I prefer to work with/be managed by men.

Looking at it stereotypically, I prefer the straightforward approach of men. I don't want to talk about my personal life and I don't want to hear about someone else's personal problems either. I don't want to have to smile and be happy happy all the time when I don't feel that way all the time. It's disingenuous and superficial. Female managers often try to be my friend and want to sit there and talk about girly things - this is my experience both in academia and out of it. That's not me, sorry.

There's exceptions, but on the whole I do better with male managers than female ones. I've even had a female manager say to me once they were worried I thought they didn't like me... like, get over yourself, it's never crossed my mind whether you like me or not, I'm just here to do my job, I don't sit around all day wondering whether you like me or not. I couldn't care less.
posted
02-Feb-18, 10:59
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 2 years ago
Unfortunately, the most horrendous bullying experiences I've had were at the hands of female managers.

Interestingly, gender stereotypes (as well as other stereotypes) are so insidious that bias can also be internalised. For example, there's been research showing that if you ask students to write their gender at the top of an exam paper, their answers conform more to stereotype, eg female students doing well at language and male students doing well at maths. Google 'stereotype threat' if you're interested!
posted
03-Feb-18, 02:28
edited about 7 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
I am not persuaded that any of this "unconscious" bias is anything of the sort. I think it is systematic and deliberate.

I think when a CV arrives from a female in her 20's, many hirers will immediately and willingly form an image in their heads of a woman caked in makeup and fake tan, wearing revealing or tight clothes, with a head full of "girly pish", lacking in confidence and needing constant "nurturing", full of gossip, lacking in work ethic and consumed by her appearance and how she is perceived by others. Most damagingly, hirers will ask themselves about whether she will be a pregnancy risk or already have a kid. Will she be phoning in every third week because her childminder has called out or her kid has a cold. Men simply don't have to fight against any of this crap. The assumption will be that the man will walk in and be no hassle whatsoever.

Why are women biased against other women?

In my opinion it is because they have fought very hard to be accepted themselves and they want to dissociate themselves from those who might damage their reputation. They will only favour women who are like themselves and will kick hard against those who follow the female stereotype.

It's the same reason why some of the most virulent anti-gay protestors turned out to be gay themselves. They try to distance themselves from others like them. Same reason again why the people who hate those on the dole are those who have been there in the past. Humans are very odd.

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