Posts Tagged ‘bias’

The Cornell Interactive Theatre Ensemble (CITE) once again visited campus to present a couple of workshops. On October 5th, DCAL hosted “It Depends on the Lens,” a workshop exploring the topic of unconscious bias in employment search committees.

Our facilitator, Tine Reimers, began by asking attendees to watch a DVD scene created by CITE actors displaying the last 15 minutes of a faculty search committee meeting. Five faculty members of varying tenure status discuss a pool of six candidates for the position. Following the viewing, the search chair, David Delay (played by CITE Director and actor Dane Cruz), entered the room to take questions from workshop participants about the behavior of members of the committee and that of even the chair himself, and also provided addition information about the search process up to the start of the video.

The video and the discussion that followed helped to highlight a number of issues related to unconscious bias. At the very least, all people are proved to have certain stereotypic unconscious biases that can affect their decision making. However, through awareness activities, we can reduce reliance on these biases to conduct effective searches. The interactive theater approach gives participants an external view of the situation, encourages self-reflection, and helps to expose these biases.

What can be done? Some of the strategies recommended include:

  • devote adequate time to the search process and to meetings
  • avoid premature ranking of the applicants
  • read candidates work rather than relying solely on support materials
  • be transparent with the criteria, ensuring that it is the same for men and women
  • consider using a candidate evaluation form

Stereotypic biases disadvantage women more than men but both men and women are prone to biases regardless of how well-intentioned and non-sexist the individuals are. Biases can be reduced, however, and this CITE workshop provided a number of tools to help. The discussion was lively and interesting, and an accompanying handout provided additional resources for participants to take away.

We look forward to CITE’s next visit to Dartmouth.

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yeah, it's long -- I didn't have time to make it shorter

Feral Librarian

Research libraries & higher education. Sometimes music, sports, & other stuff.