Unconscious Bias & Discrimination Awareness Training
There has been a lot of coverage lately in various news channels, and online, about Unconscious Bias and Discrimination. This is evidenced in the wide coverage given to Starbucks Coffee Shops shutting for an afternoon so that all staff can participate in Unconscious and Gender and Racial Bias training. Lots of similar coverage has been given to the very small percentages of woman serving on Corporate Boards, and the gender Pay Gap between men and women for the same jobs.
In the Sciences there are few women studying and working as Engineers and Physicists. The IOP (Institute of Physics) has had programs for many years aimed at encouraging more young women to study Physics at school and at university.
The IOP received some funding from the DFES (Department for Education and Skills) to implement a program of training in schools to help Teachers become aware of and challenge their own Unconscious Biases and those of their colleagues and students.
Haringey Sixth Form College Teaching staff participated in a day of Unconscious Bias Awareness Training facilitated by Dr. Jessica Hamer, one of the Training officers from the IOP. The training workshop was a mixture of presentations, activities, and group discussions, aimed at helping Teachers understand and become familiar with, and recognise their own Unconscious Biases and those of others. The activities allowed participants to experience their own biases in practice and discuss with each other how these are expressed in their daily classroom practice. The primary focus of the workshop was not that such biases can be eliminated, they are an inbuilt function of the way in which the human brain and nervous system processes information, but that becoming aware of our own biases and always looking to change our behaviour to overcome and challenge such biases, results in a more effective and productive teaching and learning environment both for Teachers and Students. Many of the participating Teachers had a positive response to the training and were looking forward to trying out the workshop practices in their classroom environments.
We also had the privilege of hosting the same training workshop for local schools on Tuesday 26th June which was greatly received by the students and staff that attended. The purpose of the workshop was to raise awareness of Gender Bias and Unconscious Gender Bias among students and then have these students form a core cohort of advocates to support staff and promote Gender Equality Issues among the student body and in their classes both with students and with staff.