All inside our heads? A critical discursive review of unconscious bias training in the sciences

Christian Möller*, Saffron Passam, Sarah Riley, Martine Robson

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

In response to persistent systemic gendered and racial exclusions in the sciences, unconscious or implicit bias training is now widely established as an organizational intervention in Higher Education (HE). Recent systematic reviews have considered the efficacy of unconscious bias training (UBT) but not the wider characteristics and effects of the interventions themselves. Guided by feminist scholarship in critical psychology and post-structuralist discourse theory, this article critically examines UBT across STEMM and in HE institutions with a discursive analysis of published studies. Drawn from systematic searches in 4 databases, we identify three types of UBT reported in 22 studies with considerable variation in intervention types, target groups, and evaluation methods. Guided by limited cognitive problematizations of unconscious bias as a problem located inside individual minds, interventions follow established patterns in neoliberal governmentality and make available specific feeling rules and subject positions. These current Equality, Diversity & Inclusion practices present a new technology of power through which organizations may regulate affect and behavior but leave structural inequalities and barriers to inclusion intact.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalGender, Work, and Organization
Early online date10 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • equality and diversity
  • psychologization
  • implicit bias
  • governmentality
  • unconscious bias

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