By Damaris Javier
What is Unconscious Bias?
Unconscious biases are prejudices or assumptions that individuals sometimes make toward others based on shared cultural stereotypes or judgments.
Unconscious bias can affect anyone in any career or organization. For example, a person trying to pursue a degree in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine (STEMM) fields may experience some form of unconscious bias and not want to continue their work and/or education. However, there are trainings that can help individuals create inclusive environments so that everyone can pursue careers in STEMM. These trainings can help individuals acknowledge and understand their unconscious biases, and learn how to address situations of bias directed towards them.
In “Implementation of an unconscious bias course for the National Research Mentoring Network” (NRMN), a recent publication in the BMC Medical Education journal, the authors discuss in-depth how the NRMN developed their Unconscious Bias course to provide training on how to mitigate unconscious bias in the STEMM field. The course is available on their MyNRMN platform and accessible nationwide for individuals as well as groups, or “cohorts.” The course guides individuals to identify and acknowledge their unconscious biases and provides a solutions tool kit to help manage them. By reaching a vast and diverse audience, this course can enhance how STEMM professionals address and navigate unconscious bias encounters.
“The awesome benefit of the NRMN’s Unconscious Bias course is that during or after taking the course, an individual can engage in mentoring and networking with individuals across the country,” said Damaris Javier, MA, the Associate Director of the NRMN and the first author on the publication. “This is very important, as combining training with other activities such as mentoring, networking and professional development can further support the goal of mitigating bias.”
This course can help students recognize when they are on the receiving end of unconscious bias and learn the best ways to navigate an often painful experience. It is crucial to the advancement of science to understand one’s unconscious biases and have the tools to mitigate bias moving forward.
FitzGerald C, Hurst S. Implicit bias in healthcare professionals: a systematic review. BMC Med Ethics. 2017;18(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s12910-017-0179-8.
Staats C, Capatosto K, Wright A, Contractor D. State of the science: implicit bias review: the Ohio State University. Kirwan Institute; 2015
SPAD & DPC DaTA
The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.