Unconscious bias is a way of thinking that rapidly sorts people into groups, bypassing logical and rational thinking. This can affect our decision-making process, especially in the workplace. All humans are subjected to unconscious bias and the more we are made aware of it, the more we can work towards mitigating it. Our brain can be blamed for creating such distinctions- with the huge amount of information given to us to process daily; it becomes more reliant on stereotypes and grouping. It is a short cut taken by the brain to refrain from wasting time.
An example of this can be found in the American work culture where they think that it is suitable to hire a CEO of tall stature. About 60% of male corporate CEOs are more than six feet. It can be seen as a norm that may make the employees feel the gravity of the authority imposed on them. To get rid of this prejudice and bias that our brain imposes on our thinking process, we should be aware of the widespread assumptions that exert a huge influence on our decisions and choices.
Christopher Riedl and Brooke Foucalt Welles, associate professors at Northeastern University, are working on creating a gadget that could identify bias in the workplace. They will focus on it from a social science perspective and see how pupils of a team communicate with each other. Riedl, an associate professor studying crowdsourcing, network science, and open innovation, says, “The vision that we have (for this project) is that you would have a device, maybe something like Amazon Alexa, that sits on the table and observes the human team members while they are working on a problem, and supports them in various ways. One of the ways in which we think we can support that team is by ensuring equal inclusion of all team members.”
Though Riedl expressed his dilemma in completely understanding team dynamics, he believes that they will be able to create a system smart enough to determine the kind of help the team requires.