Unconscious Bias

Learn about wha unconscious bias is and the five most common biases that tend to face women in the workplace


Globally, fewer women than men are hired into entry level positions and at every step of the career journey, the representation of women continues to decline. Women of colour are the most underrepresented group of all—behind white men, men of colour, and white women.

Given that our purpose is to give EVERYONE an unforgettable start to their career, we feel it is critical that we do everything we can to help change these statistics and move towards a more gender-equal world. Therefore, given that it’s our international women’s MONTH, we ran an unconscious bias training to ensure that all our consultants were aware of any unconscious gender-biases that could be affecting them fulfilling our purpose.

The training covered what unconscious bias is and the reasons behind why we have them. We discovered that EVERYONE has unconscious biases, as evolutionarily we form short cuts in our brains to simplify the world around us, allowing us to make quick judgements to keep us safe e.g. fight or flight. However, these quick judgements about people are very dangerous and can lead to discrimination and inequality.

We learned that there are 5 common biases that tend to face women in the workplace, and prevent them from fulfilling their true potential:

  • Performance Bias – We tend to underestimate women’s performance and overestimate men’s which results in hiring managers preferring male over female candidates
  • Attribution Bias – As a society, we tend to give women less credit for their achievements and we’re more likely to blame them for mistakes. This leads to women having less confidence meaning they’re less likely to apply for jobs, ask for promotions etc.
  • Likeability Bias – Women face a social penalty when they assert themselves and are often seen as less likeable. However, if women are ‘too likeable’ they can be seen as less competent. This makes it challenging for women to know how to navigate the workplace – they need to assert themselves to be effective, but when they do they may be less liked!
  • Maternal Bias – Motherhood triggers assumptions that women are less committed to their careers and less competent. This results in women being given less opportunities, but also more blamed for small mistakes or oversights
  • Affinity Bias – We tend to gravitate towards people that are like us. Hiring managers are therefore more likely to spend time interviewing candidates who are like them. Because white men hold more positions of power therefore, they are more likely to hire and gravitate towards other white males
  • Double Discrimination and intersectionality – Women of colour face bias for being both a woman and being of colour. LGBTQ women also face double discrimination. This compounded discrimination can be much greater than the two separate counterparts. Research shows that women with 3+ minority identities don’t feel like they belong anywhere.

Having learned more about these biases, here at Instant Impact we are consciously doing all we can to eliminate our gendered unconscious biases in order to fulfil our purpose of giving EVERYONE an unforgettable start to our career.

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