We’ve had a surge of self-help articles and books telling women how they should act if they want to advance in the workplace. For example, women are told to “lean in,” “be more confident,” and “ask for a raise, but do it in a way that is ‘feminine’ so you don’t come off as demanding or unlikeable.”
Sex discrimination has been illegal for fifty years. Rather than telling women how to navigate a biased system, shouldn’t we focus on how to stop the bias in the first place?
Ramit’s two-part series, published in the CELA Voice Blog, addresses implicit biases, how they hurt women in the workplace, and what employers can do to reduce their effects. In the first post, Fifty years after sex discrimination became illegal, the focus is still on how women behave instead of changing organizations to eliminate gender bias, Ramit describes how implicit biases harm women in the workplace. She then explains the first step to remedying the situation:
[W]e must stop pretending to be sex blind, color blind, or blind to any other differences. Despite our best intentions, we are not. In fact, research has shown that people who most value fairness and objectivity are particularly likely to fall prey to biases, in part because they are not on guard against them.
This is not an easy task. Fifty years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we can all agree that intentionally discriminating against someone because of her sex or race is an act that is morally reprehensible as well as illegal. But can we equally embrace the lesson learned from years of social science research into implicit bias – that we all harbor biases? Unless and until individuals and organizations are willing to grapple with this uncomfortable truth, we will be unable to dismantle these hidden barriers head on.
Read the article here. And stay tuned for Part 2 of the series, which will describe steps that companies can take to reduce the effects of implicit biases.