How We Can Rise Above Unconscious Gender Bias

Exploring unconscious gender bias to achieve gender equality globally.
How We Can Rise Above Unconscious Gender Bias
Image credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer
5 min read
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Globally, women encounter innumerable challenges in the workplace. One of the major challenges women encounter is unconscious gender bias. Research has shown that women are stereotyped due to conscious and unconscious bias. Some men don’t realize that there is a prevailing unconscious bias that is preventing women from breaking the glass ceiling.

When individuals are aware of their biases it is known as conscious bias whereas when individuals are unaware of their biases it is known as unconscious bias. Conscious bias is also known as explicit bias. Unconscious bias is also known as implicit bias and hidden bias. When people judge and assess others and situations based on their personalities, personal experiences, societal stereotypes, and cultural backgrounds, it is known as unconscious bias. These biases exist about ethnicity, race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and social group. They influence your decision making.

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We operate 5 percent from our conscious mind and 95 percent from our subconscious mind. When we learn new things, we are alert to acquire knowledge, skills, and abilities and transfer them to our subconscious mind. We operate automatically due to the influence of our subconscious mind. Hence, when you want to overcome unconscious bias, it is essential to avoid accepting undesirable and unsubstantiated information consciously.

Addressing the unconscious biases

There are several challenges to achieve gender equality globally. Some of them include gender discrimination and unconscious gender bias. To address unconscious biases, you must first accept the fact that we all have unconscious biases that lead to wrong assumptions, perceptions, and decision making. Identify, analyze, and dissect them. Here are some tools and techniques to overcome your unconscious gender biases.

  • Be aware of yourself. Overcome your blind spots. Accept and understand the fact that we are emotional animals. We are hardwired with certain biases and make mistakes. Hence, taking intrapersonal feedback helps immensely. As companies undergo an organizational diversity audit, individuals must undergo an intrapersonal audit.
  • Identify your triggers. Change your environment to have a different perspective.
  • Use non-biased gender-neutral language.
  • Avoid preconceived notions. Empathize with others. Take feedback from multiple sources before assessing others. 
  • Bridge the gap between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Emphasize more on the conscious and less on the unconscious mind while making your decisions. Use your head when you have full information, use your heart when you have partial information, and use your gut when you don’t have any information to make your decisions.
  • Rewire your mind. Do this through awareness training, soft skills training, and diversity training to improve attitude, personality, and behavior.
  • Adopt soft leadership. It is an innovative leadership style that can be defined as the process of setting goals; influencing people through persuasion; building strong teams; negotiating them with a win-win attitude; respecting their failures; handholding them; motivating them constantly; aligning their energies and efforts; recognizing and appreciating their contribution in accomplishing organizational goals and objectives with an emphasis on soft skills. It is based on the right mindset, skillset, and toolset.

If we don't eliminate unconscious biases, we make similar mistakes repeatedly thus getting similar outcomes. Hence, it is essential to take feedback regularly and eliminate unconscious biases to become better decision-makers and leaders. To summarize, reflect a lot. Avoid stereotypes and superstitions. Surround with a diversified positive circle of connections. Separate your feelings from facts. Practice gratitude. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to overcome unconscious gender bias.

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Initiatives for global organizations

Research shows that organizations with a representation of women in executive positions offer higher returns on investment. The participation of women in the workplace enhances innovation and improves organizational productivity and performance. It increases collective intelligence and creativity. It offers simple solutions to complex problems. Hence, global organizations must take initiatives to overcome unconscious bias to achieve gender equality by making diversity an integral part of their corporate culture; expanding sources of future talent; removing bias from business processes; fostering inclusive team meetings and culture; holding employees accountable; and providing legitimate recognition, credit, and encouragement. They must provide feedback to women regularly and offer women career opportunities and growth in their early part to enable women to reach senior-level positions quickly. 

It is deplorable that management and leadership are synonymous with man’s activities, not woman’s activities. Additionally, the corporate culture is masculine globally. Hence, there must be integrated and coordinated efforts from all stakeholders to redefine and keep them gender-neutral to overcome unconscious gender bias. 

Rise above unconscious gender bias

Unconscious bias is challenging to overcome because they are deeply ingrained into our thinking and emotions. When individuals accept, understand, and rewire their brains, it is possible to overcome unconscious bias. 

We all have unconscious biases and we must take earnest action to overcome them to improve our personality, attitude, behavior, and decision making. Currently, we have parochialism, racism, and sexism in the world. We can overcome them by identifying and addressing unconscious biases. The world can progress when half of the population consisting of women takes an active part in developmental activities. Global progress is possible when individuals overcome their unconscious gender bias and view women with open minds.

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To summarize, unconscious biases are the outcomes of our regimented ill-founded ideas and insights. They cannot be considered authentic due to human biases. They are unfair and unethical that the responsible individuals must overcome to become just and fair to build credibility and enhance visibility. To conclude, identify and address the challenges to overcome the unconscious gender bias to create gender equality globally.

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