Unconscious Bias


Your experiences of all bias

Two decades ago it was institutionalised racism; now unconscious bias is the new discrimination dirty word, identifying the magnitude of work that still needs to be done to improve equality and diversity and eradicate discrimination. So what is this unconscious bias phenomenon? Simply put, a bias is an inclination/prejudice for or against a person or group and unconscious biases are implicit feelings wehave towards other people or groups.

The thing to note is that unconscious bias per se is not a bad thing, it is simply our brains way of categorising information and the truth is we are all unconsciously bias. The problem arises when our unconscious biases cause discrimination, which usually occurs during the recruitment and selection process, as well as in the workplace.

The most typical prejudice I face is being called an angry black woman apparently, Im aggressive, which may I add actually means behaving in an angry and violent way towards another person. However, Im quite sure that if this was true I wouldnt have lasted in the teaching profession for as long as I have. So why then have I been given this label and other who display similar virtues havent? The most challenging times have been when I have tried to progress in my career and faced hurdles because someone didnt think I was ready. This has not happened to me once but on multiple occasions and each time I have proved my doubters wrong. But why did I have to prove them wrong in the first place?

The consequences/actions on yourself as a result of the bias

The biggest problem with unconscious bias is the emotional turmoil those who are being discriminated against have to deal with. As a black female, I believe I have had to work harder than both my white and male counter-parts and I am not alone in that premise. This leads to mistrust, low morale and reduce job satisfaction. After a while this becomes too much to bear and most people will decide to leave. This is what I did, I chose to leave the UK education system and go to a country where I would not be consciously or subconsciously discriminated against because of the colour of my skin.

Steps moving forward in addressing Unconscious Bias

First and foremost, we have to call a spade a spade and accept that unconscious bias is prevalent in the workplace. Then we must no longer hide by the I never meant it rhetoric. Our tendency to discriminate against a group or type of person may not be intentional, but we can and should do something to change it. Our biases are influenced by our background, culture, personal experiences and societal stereotypes. This is why diversity is important as it helps garner greater variety of perspectives. The more we expose ourselves to different ideas, images and words that challenge negative stereotypes, the less discriminatory we will be.

Author Profile

Martha Da Costa-Sherwood

Martha Da Costa-Sherwood

Headteacher Nigeria| Future Leader Ambition_SL| DfE Coach| NPQSL Facilitator| Entrepreneur

5 stories


Anoara Mughal Anoara Mughal @ano 6 months ago
Completely agree that we should expose ourselves to different ideas and cultures. Thank you.
Suzie Happy Suzie Happy @suhappyness 6 months ago
An open and honest blog (just as you are). Thank you Martha
Flora RH Richards Flora RH Richards @cupacoco 4 days ago
Thank you for sharing your perspective, Martha. So important to diversify our language, images and ideas to help us counter unconscious bias.
{{ modalTitle }} {{{ modalData }}} {{ modalTitle }} {{{ modalData }}} Join the conversation
Sign in or sign up to post comments, follow colleagues, recommend stories and build your own professional profile.
Staffrm is the professional network for educators passionate about their work.
Please Sign In {{ modalData }} Sign In