Unconscious bias

What if "following your gut" wasn't the best way to the top? Unconsciously, we associate with people who think like us, have a similar background and share common goals. In Higher Education we may think that we are more open than most, but research has shown that our intuition and tendency to side with the tribe may be harming our career prospects.

Learn how to put your assumptions in the spotlight, interrogate your beliefs and challenge yourself to try something new. Take your first steps with Athena SWAN.

Unconcious bias: what the research shows

Research demonstrates unconscious bias exists, even in (perceived) open minded organisations.

Several experiments using CV shortlisting exercises have highlighted bias by gender and ethnicity. In short, our assumptions are impacting recruitment.

A study of science faculties in higher education institutions (Moss-Racusin et al 2-12) asked staff to review a number of applications. The applications reviewed were identical, apart from the gender and the name of the applicant.

What do you think the results were?

Unconscious bias

Athena SWAN: Addressing unconscious bias

The Athena SWAN charter has been expanded beyond addressing the barriers female academics and researchers face in progressing careers in STEM disciplines.


All staff and students are now included, with the aim of advancement of "gender equality: representation, progression and success for all."

For Aston staff, unconscious bias training is now available via the HR Staff Portal. Simply search "Unconscious Bias" in the "Book a Course" area.

You can also view and download the new Athena SWAN Brochure to find out more about Athena SWAN at Aston.

How to challenge unconscious bias at work

If you have an idea for other ways we can tackle unconscious bias - I'd love to hear from you.

Alison Hodge
Professor of Engineering Leadership, -;and Lead for University submission to Athena SWAN