Practical Tools

Raising Awareness of Unconscious Bias

Implicit Association Test (IAT) Harvard University

Description: ‘The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.’ Jost et al. (2009) provide counter arguments to critiques of IAT.

Application: We recommend trying one or more IAT and discussing the findings and the experience with a fellow colleague who has also tried it.

The discomfort experienced from raising our awareness of ‘unconscious biases’ can provide the necessary trigger to help us recognise the value of bias aware teaching and learning.

Hillard et al. (2013) evaluate students’ reactions to the Race Implicit Association Test (IAT) when used as an educational tool to raise awareness of racial bias.


Warmth and Competence

Description: This activity is informed by Fiske et al.’s (2002) ‘Model of (Often Mixed) Stereotype Content: Competence and Warmth Respectively Follow From Perceived Status and Competition’.

Application: A selection of about 6 portrait photos are shown on screen, each photo is shown for only 5-10 seconds. The photos should include portraits which are likely to elicit a stereotypical response, which could later be revealed as inaccurate representations. The selection of portraits will depend on the social norms and social stereotypes which are commonly associated with the viewers.  For example: Northern European and Northern American biases tend towards white, clean shaven, good looking males therefore including a photo of such a male who has a serious criminal background would challenge the stereotype.  Viewers are asked to note their initial responses to each photo, their System One response, as Kahneman (2011) would call it. They use the Warmth and Competence template to record a score for warmth and competence for each portrait. After reviewing the viewers’ scores more information about each person in the photo is provided and viewers are asked if their scores would have been higher if they had had access to this information at the start. Usually, more information would have led to a different score on some if not all of the photos. The activity can help raise viewers' awareness of how our initial impressions can be misleading.


Questionnaire for the Evaluation of Gender Equality in Teaching

This questionnaire is based on the assumption that teaching is not gender-neutral. 'Gender equal teaching is not simply applying specific teaching methods. Rather, it means to detect, make aware, and integrate gender issues in relation with your teaching scenario. This questionnaire is thought to help you with this.' The questionnaire was developed by Project e-qual – Teaching, Gender, Quality, University of Fribourg


Ways to mitigate the impact of unconscious bias

The Four Step Approach

Description: The Four Step Approach is an adaptation of Anne-Françoise Gilbert’s Three Step Approach, which she introduced to SDU at her course on Gender Aware Teaching and Learning in April, 2016. The Four Step Approach provides a framework for identifying and addressing a ‘critical incident’ in a teaching or supervision situation, which may have been affected by bias.

Application: The resource includes a short introductory Four Step Approach Presentation and the accompanying template for recording the four steps. The resource is designed to be used in conjunction with bias awareness raising resources available above and resources on the Think Pieces page.


7 Steps to: Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Teaching and Learning

Muneer, R., Cotton, D. and Winter, J. (2015) 7 Steps Series, Educational Development, Plymouth University.

Application: This 7 step checklist for teachers, is designed to keep us aware of possible biases and to inform our teaching practices. The checklist was designed for and used by teachers at Plymouth University, UK.


Gender Inclusive English Language

The Writing Centre at the University of Carolina provides a helpsheet on gender-inclusive English language.

Application: This resource can help raise awareness of gender stereotyped language and provide alternative gender-inclusive language.


Empirically Validated Strategies to Reduce Stereotype Threat

Strategies to Reduce Stereotype Threat - Compiled by Greg Walton, Geoff Cohen, and Claude Steele (May 2012). 


Gendered innovations

Gendered innovations provides navigation through sex and gender analysis for scientists and engineers – developed at Stanford University.

Application: This resource – aiming for state-of-the-art methods for gender and sex analyses – provides practical tools, checklists, and case studies to assist in the time and cost-efficient research and development within natural science, medicine, health, engineering and environmental sciences.


Seven actionable strategies for advancing women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Smith et al 2015

Application: This resource provides in a shortlist of recommendations to promote gender equality in science and stimulate future efforts to level the field.


Inclusion Nudges – by Tinna Nielsen and Lisa Kepinski 

The book 'Inclusion Nudges' provides practical examples of how to address unconscious bias from three approaches: Feel the Need – awareness raising; Process – changes at organisational level and Framing – challenging and changing our frames of reference.

You can access more of Tinna's and Lisa's work on the Think Pieces page and on the Inclusion Nudges website.