Professor Saul Speaks at Cambridge University Equality and Diversity Event

Professor Jennifer Saul

Professor Jennifer Saul

Professor Jennifer Saul, Head of the Department of Philosophy, was invited by Cambridge University Equality and Diversity Office to present a talk on “Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat and Women in Academia”, open to the entire University Community.  It was introduced by Dame Athene Donald and chaired by Pro Vice Chancellor Jeremy Sanders. The talk explored the much talked about concept of Unconscious Bias and its impact on people and organisations.

Jennifer was Director of the (2011-2013) Leverhulme-funded Implicit Bias and Philosophy Project. Over the last decade, a large psychological literature has developed on implicit biases. There is by now substantial empirical support for the claim that most people— even those who explicitly and sincerely avow egalitarian views—hold what have been described as implicit biases against such groups as blacks, women, gay people, and so on. (This is true even of members of the “target” group.) These biases are manifested in, for example, association tasks asking subjects to pair positive and negative adjectives with black or white faces: most are much speedier to match black faces with negative adjectives than with positive ones. They are also, it has been argued, manifested in behaviour: studies have shown that those with anti-black implicit biases are less friendly to black experimenters and more likely to classify an ambiguous object as a gun when it’s associated with a black person and as harmless when it’s associated with a white person.