Influence of Unconscious Bias Focus of Diversity Discussion

UCSF Community Invited to Sixth Annual Chancellor's Leadership Panel on Diversity

March 22, 2013

The UCSF community is invited to join Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and members of her leadership team for an important discussion about "The Influence of Unconscious Bias" on Tuesday, March 26, in Cole Hall Auditorium on the Parnassus campus.

Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, will present the latest research findings to frame the discussion during the sixth annual Chancellor's Leadership Panel on Diversity. The event, to run from noon to 1:30 p.m., will be streamed live

Unconscious or implicit bias is when people who genuinely believe in racial equality and justice unknowingly engage in behavior that may favor men over women or whites over underrepresented minorities. Scientists are making advances in creating tools to measure unconcious bias as a way to uncover and then address it. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to take the Harvard University implicit bias test to see how they fare before the discussion.

Studies continue to show the need to raise awareness and understanding of unconscious bias to improve gender and racial equality across all sectors of life: in the workplace, health care settings and universities. Among recent evidence cited by media:

Psychology Today reported that David Williams, MD, a professor of public health and a professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, addressed the topic during a 2012 conference. Williams, who is recognized as a leading social scientist focused on social influences on health, cited studies documenting inequal treatment of Latinos and African Americans who were significantly less likely to get pain medication for a broken bone in their leg.

The New York Times reported on a 2012 Yale University study that found that bias against women still exists in American universities. Science professors widely consider female undergraduates who have similiar accomplishments and skills less competent than their male peers. This bias means that female students are deemed less worthy of hiring, mentoring, being promoted or compensated adequately when they do get a job.