Bias Prevention Training

Overview

The goal of Bias Prevention Training is to transform the informal culture of the university by providing information to employees designed to help them understand and eliminate bias. Focus Groups and other methods of transforming the informal culture will be established. All methods will be infused with bias prevention educational strategies. These strategies will be designed to educate and mitigate biases by examining and rectifying issues that impact the retention and promotion of STEM-SBS female faculty on the campus.

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Accomplishments

Unconscious Bias Training–February 2013

On February 4-5, 2013, Howard Ross of Cook Ross came to provide workshops for the Cabinet and Academic Leadership team (Associate Provosts, Deans, Associate Deans, and Chairs) on the role of implicit bias on decision-making, towards an end of working towards improving campus climate for women, particularly academic women in the STEM disciplines. The goal of the workshops was to help create a better campus climate across the disciplines and colleges and to institutionalize change through improved campus understanding of the unconscious assumptions and attitudes that impact the way in which we treat issues related to gender.  To help us create a more equitable workplace, the grant provides for a national leader in this subject, Howard Ross of Cook Ross, Inc., came to campus this Spring term to help the academic leadership and Cabinet begin conversations on gender equity and campus community.

Building Promotion and Tenure Portfolios to Minimize Bias Workshop–April 2012

Based on a collaboration with the Center for University Scholars on Jackson State’s campus, we developed a one hour workshop on preparing for the Promotion and Tenure process. While this event was made available for all faculty eligible for promotion and tenure in the next year, one of the key foci of the program was on minimizing bias. Michelle D. Deardorff, Professor of Political Science and the Bias Implementation lead, focused on the definition of implicit bias, giving examples of the difference between implicit and explicit bias, and noting how bias can play a role in the evaluation of a tenure and promotion application. She noted that people bring their own unexamined and unconscious assumptions about others to their decision making processes (e.g., women are more nurturing and they enjoy departmental and university service and naturally do more of it). The consequence of this is that committee members unconsciously use these assumptions to interpret the applications before them. The suggested solution for this problem was the idea of “telling one’s own story” explicitly and clearly framing one’s application packet. Specific suggestions were given as to how to do this, both in terms of goals of the packet (e.g., define the pathway of your own career; interpret your own choices; document your argument; gaps and vagueness leave room for interpretation by others) and in term of structure (e.g., clear letter that introduces your application, themes that are reinforced throughout the application, careful winnowing of supporting items that demonstrate the theme).

The Academic Woman–December 2011

On December 10, 2011 at the Mississippi E-Center, the JSUAdvance Implementation team hosted a series of focus groups designed to help develop a baseline for the development of bias prevention training on the campus of Jackson State University. Three parallel programs were designed to determine the specific needs of single and married/partnered academic women in the STEM-SBS area in terms of their abilities to negotiate issues surrounding the perceptions and realities of gender bias. Three focus groups were formed: single academic women, academic women with spouses/partners, and the spouses/partners of these women. Each group met separately: the women began with a common presentation, supplemented with moderated discussions on these topics, and concluding with a working lunch. These workshops were deemed to be engaging and rewarding and will frame future programming for these distinct groups.