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What is implicit bias, and is it affecting your career?

Implicit bias occurs when a person explicitly claims to support anti-discrimination endeavors and discourage any form of stereotyping, yet he or she ends up making biased decisions unconsciously.

A recent and worrisome discovery by scientists reveals that humans have conscious access to only five percent of the brain. The other 95 percent of the brain, however, still influences decisions and judgments. It simply happens on an unconscious level.

So what does this mean for California employees? It means that sometimes workplace promotions, transfers and other decisions are affected by these unconscious assumptions. This implicit bias in companies can result in unfair treatment.

Women Are Common Victims Of Bias

As research by the Kirwan Institute illustrates, implicit bias is a pervasive problem inherent even among people entrusted with impartiality positions, such as judges and HR managers. In many cases, women are the victims of implicit bias in terms of career growth and development.

Regardless of the position and industry, the most common forms of implicit biases among women include:

  • Job advertisements and recruitments implying that men are more likely to fill the position than their female counterparts.
  • Disparities in compensation packages, whereby women receive lower salaries and wages than men for similar job positions.
  • More training and development opportunities for men than for women working in the same organization.
  • Performance appraisals that are based on a quality that is perceived to be positive in one gender but negative in another. For instance, the same quality that is positively perceived as "assertiveness" in a man may be negatively perceived as "bossiness" in a woman.

Learning About Your Rights

Hiring a skilled employment law attorney can potentially help you overcome the effects of implicit bias and obtain justice in the workplace. Don't hesitate to learn more about your rights and options in California.

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