Demonstrating the cumulative effects of unconscious bias with wages-academic (workshop activity for gender equity simulation): Short- and long-term impact on faculty and administrators

Stephanie A. Shields, Kaitlin T. McCormick, Elaine C. Dicicco, Matthew J. Zawadzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The long-term effectiveness of WAGES-Academic, a brief intervention that illustrates the cumulative negative effect of minor disadvantages, is reported. University faculty and academic administrators (n = 69) in six sessions at four different universities completed assessments at two time points: a pre/post questionnaire at intervention and open-ended questions in response to email between two and four years after the WAGES session. Pre/post evaluations replicate and extend results obtained in randomized trials. Specifically, after playing WAGES compared to before, participants were more likely to endorse statements that the effect of many small incidents of gender inequity are cumulatively harmful, that case-by-case comparisons of individual applicants are difficult to do objectively, and that masked evaluations are effective in making unbiased hiring decisions. No change occurred in participants’ agreement with standardized evaluation forms or accountability of decision-makers as effective. Open-ended questions indicated that WAGES validated many participants’ experiences and observations about subtle bias. Long-term follow-up responses were obtained for 23 of 60 individuals with working email addresses. All except two indicated that they remembered participating and recalled inequity as WAGES’ focus. Fifty-seven percent indicated that WAGES had led to changes in their behavior, insights into gender biases in their institutions’ policies and practices, or policy change at their institutions. We discuss the implications of using WAGES-Academic as a primary or supplemental intervention to educate regarding unconscious bias, (i.e., systematic errors in judgment due to ordinary cognitive processes rather than conscious decision).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

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