cies and procedures that minimize the
influence of bias and assumptions on
the recruitment and admission of students, as well as on the recruitment,
hiring, promotion, and retention of
faculty. Awareness of our own propensity to rely on biases and assumptions
when interacting with and evaluating
individuals is another key strategy
for ensuring admitted students and
newly hired faculty experience positive and welcoming climates, students
complete their degrees and continue
their education, and faculty advance
professionally through tenure and
promotion. Research on overcoming the influence of bias and assumptions demonstrates that in order to do
so successfully, individuals must be
motivated, must believe they have the
capacity to do so, and must learn and
practice specific techniques demonstrated to be effective [ 24]. These techniques include:
˲ Recognizing when you have, hear,
or see a stereotyped or biased viewpoint (e.g., women aren’t good at math)
and replacing it with a non-stereotypi-cal response (e.g., gender differences in
math performance disappear when we
control for math courses taken).
˲ Practicing counter-stereotype
imaging (e.g., think about successful
women computer scientists and their
contributions to the field).
˲ Practicing individuation by focusing on an individual’s unique personal
qualities, strengths, and weaknesses,
rather than on characteristics of the
group to which the individual belongs.
˲ Engaging in perspective-taking,
such as imagining how it would feel to
be the only woman in a workgroup or
classroom, to have colleagues assume
you were only admitted to a program
or hired because of your race or gender
rather than because of your ability, and
to have to prove your worthiness constantly.
˲Seeking out opportunities to
interact professionally with women
students and colleagues and learning
more about their strengths and contributions and the challenges they face
Unfortunately, reading about such
strategies—especially in a short ar-
ticle—will not help you to overcome
bias and stereotypes; nor will reading
a longer article, viewing a webcast,
or watching a video. Research on ef-
fective strategies for minimizing the
influence of unintentional bias dem-
onstrates that actively engaging in ed-
ucational activities and discussions is
essential [ 26]. Universities are increas-
ingly offering workshops and educa-
tional activities centered around re-
search on unconscious or implicit bias
and how to minimize the role it plays.
Watch for or request such offerings on
your campus and participate in them.
Use these opportunities to learn and
practice the strategies needed to de-
velop and sustain a diverse and inclu-
sive scientific workforce that takes full
advantage of the human capacity for
knowledge and innovation.
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Eve Fine, Ph.D., is a researcher at WISELI: the Women
in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Fine relies on her
Ph.D. in the history of science and medicine to understand
and address contemporary issues facing women faculty
in S TEM fields.
Amy Wendt, Ph. D., is a professor of electrical and
computer engineering, and is co-director of WISELI,
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prof. Wendt received
graduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer
science from UC Berkeley, and no w runs an experimental
research program investigating “low-temperature”
plasmas for materials processing applications including
the fabrication of integrated circuits. She also works
to enhance the representation of women in academic
departments through WISELI initiatives, and by developing
a hands-on engineering curriculum for middle school math
and science classes that sho wcases engineering as a
means to meet societal needs.
Molly Carnes, M. D., M. S., is a professor of medicine,
psychiatry, and industrial and systems engineering, and
is director of the Center for Women’s Health Research and
co-director of WISELI, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Carnes studies how gender and race stereotypes
negatively impact career development in academic
medicine, science, and engineering with the goal of
developing and implementing effective interventions.
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