Athena Swan

Athena Swan promotes and supports the careers of women in Science, Engineering and Technology (STEM), and aims to address gender inequalities and imbalance in these disciplines and, in particular, the under-representation of women in senior roles.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

In the news - unconscious bias

Two articles doing the rounds today, from different angles of unconscious bias. The first, from the NY Times, looks at 'speaking while female' - that all-too-familiar situation where women with equally good ideas are talked over, ignored or considered too 'aggressive' by their male colleagues. They report on several studies that have identified ways around the problem, but it requires action from those in leadership positions as well as those on the ground to implement.

The other, in Forbes, looks at the effect quotas can have on overcoming hiring biases. Quotas are a touchy subject, as discussed here, but implemented carefully they may provide the activation energy required to move things along. Interestingly, different policies have been applied across Europe, from voluntary efforts to strict legislation - almost all of which have resulted in higher percentages of women on company boards than the US or Japan, where no such controls are in place. Quotas, like any other tactic, will never be a complete panacea, but certainly one to consider.

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