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How to Recognize and Address Unconscious Bias

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The Academic Medicine Handbook

Abstract

Despite the dramatic increase in the number of women and racial minorities pursuing careers in medicine, their representation among medical school faculty remains strikingly low. One potential explanation for this disparity is unconscious bias: opinions that we hold about different social groups that operate outside of our conscious awareness. During the past few decades, social scientists have discovered that unconscious bias can strongly influence the way we evaluate and treat other people. This chapter explains the nature of unconscious bias and how it might impact the careers of women and minority faculty members. We first explain what unconscious bias is and what social scientists know about why unconscious bias exists. Next we briefly cover the ways that unconscious bias affects the careers of junior faculty. We then outline several specific strategies that individuals can take in order to prevent unconscious bias from negatively influencing their own careers. These strategies include promoting awareness in self and others, developing a growth mindset, building and maintaining strong professional networks, and taking charge of one’s own career development. In addition, several recommendations are given to institutions on how to combat the influence of unconscious bias in the context of hiring. For example, institutions can educate search committees, make sure job descriptions sound neutral, and encourage their departments to use structured interview processes.

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Correspondence to Hannah Valantine M.D. .

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Grewal, D., Ku, M.C., Girod, S.C., Valantine, H. (2013). How to Recognize and Address Unconscious Bias. In: Roberts, L. (eds) The Academic Medicine Handbook. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5693-3_49

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5693-3_49

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