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Interactive video lesson plan for: Valerie Purdie-Vaughns on Unintentional Bias

Activity overview:

Valerie Purdie-Vaughns discusses how discrimination in the workplace is still a problem, though often unintentional. Purdie-Vaughns is the Director of the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and Social Mind at Columbia University (http://goo.gl/b9cmQx).

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Transcript - So, discrimination and bias and inequities is one of the most important topics of the day today. One of the reasons why is that many, many companies are becoming increasingly diverse. Companies value diversity. They think it's really important. And yet the way our brain works we still engage in many different kinds of biases and they happen outside of our awareness. And so the more and more that we hear about this the more and more we talk about it and have conversations about it, the more it helps us to become just much more powerful and informed leaders, both in the national context and also in the international context as well.

there are lots of things that we now know about discrimination that we didn't know before. And often times the science is a lot more far ahead than what people think. And so for example many, many people continue to think that discrimination is overt, it's intentional, it's some bad apples or bad people engaging in bad behaviors. And what we now know is that most discrimination is actually quite unintentional, it's unconscious and it happens outside of our awareness. And so a great example of this is letters of recommendation. This is a great example because you're really trying to like write a letter of recommendation for someone, but we know that there winds up being very, very strong gender biases when you write a letter for a woman versus a letter for a man.

So, letters for men are longer. They use the word brilliant. They use the word genius and they focus on the person's qualities. Letters of recommendation for women tend to be shorter. They use the word team player and they often times incorporate things about women's personal lives. And so even when you're really trying hard to advocate for someone, these unconscious biases can affect how you're actually advocating for someone when you're actually on their team and advocating on their behalf. So that's an example of unintentional bias.

it's very much the case that bias also varies by group. And what I mean by that, for instance, is that discrimination and bias against lesbians, gay individuals, transgender individuals, bisexuals is on the decline. It's not completely gone but it certainly on the decline. However, bias against older employees, and this just means people that are over 50 years old. Bias against people who are over weight and bias against people who have physical limitations has very much not changed over the past say 15 years, and in some respects, with the inclusion of technology companies it's actually on the rise. And so we need to be careful to think that just because discrimination or bias is declining for some groups it doesn't decline for all groups at the same time.

Tagged under: Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU,Diversity,Bias,Cognitive Science (School/tradition),Cognitive Bias,Gender,Equality,Discrimination,Sexism,Racism,Workplace,Letter Reccommendation,Columbia University (College/University),Valerie Purdie-Vaughns,technolofy,age,Behavior,mind,brain,psychology,University (Ontology Class),ethics

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