Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. It is a day that recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all over the world and calls for action to accelerate gender parity.
Imagine a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated…
We are naturally biased. We make decisions all the time and very few of them are conscious. Even when we intend to be completely fair, our brains have a hard time remaining impartial. It is the mind’s way of making associations between two concepts automatically, instinctively placing people into categories.
This saves us time when absorbing and processing information but can affect our behaviour. Categorising people can lead us to make assumptions about them that might not be true.
Even if we don’t consciously believe in stereotypes, our brain has a natural tendency to rely on them and these biases may show up in the decisions we make, both personally and professionally.
Everyone has a role to play in forging a more gender-balanced world and individually we are all responsible for our thoughts and actions.
The first step is to acknowledge that unconscious bias exists and that we all have preconceptions about people which we cannot control on our own.
To overcome the unconscious gender bias that is built-in to our brain, we need to question our beliefs and decisions, even when they ‘feel’ right. We need to make a conscious decision to unlearn negative stereotypes and continually question the assumptions we make about others based on how they look, who they are and how they present themselves.
We must step up and be aware of the significant impact that bias has on women’s equality – both conscious and unconscious bias. We need to recognise it and we need to call it out.
We need to #BreakTheBias.