Unconscious Bias

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology is committed to providing a create a safe, supportive, equitable and bias-free environment for learners, faculty and staff.  One of the department’s goals is to increase knowledge and awareness in unconscious bias, and outline fair processes required for success in career paths.  It has been documented that these internalized biases can affect many areas of work including the admissions process, faculty hiring, peer review and patient care.

What is unconscious bias?

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University defines unconscious or implicit bias as attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases can be positive or negative and differ from known biases that people may intentionally hide.

Can we change our biases?    

Several organizations have arranged Unconscious Bias training programs to expose people to their unconscious biases, provide tools to adjust automatic patterns of thinking, and ultimately eliminate discriminatory behaviors. 

According to Wikipedia, Unconscious Bias training programs tend to follow a basic three-step method:

  1. Participants take a pretest to assess baseline implicit bias levels (typically with the IAT).
  2. They complete the unconscious bias training task.
  3. They take a post-test to re-evaluate bias levels after training.

Here are some of the available online resources to assess your unconscious bias:

  1. Assess baseline
    1. Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) has provided a platform for the general public to understand attitudes, stereotypes, and other hidden biases that influence perception, judgment, and action.
  1. Unconscious Bias training
    1. The Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE) led by Maydianne Andrade, Canada Research Chair and Vice-Dean, Faculty Affairs & Equity at UTSC and Bryan Gaensler, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, presented scientific evidence of unconscious bias. The video is about 1-hr in length.  A copy of their slides is available by linking on the following links -  Andrade slides, Gaensler slides.
    2. The Association of America Medical Colleges also offers a free online seminar on The Science of Unconscious Bias and What To Do About it in the Search and Recruitment ProcessRegistration is required.

Acknowledgement Form

After completing the e-learning module, kindly complete the Acknowledgement Form prior to undertaking any committee work in LMP. If you have previously completed the e-learning module, you do not need to complete this module again. 

Other Resources

Faculty Search Committee

U of T Office of the Vice-President and Provost - Search Committee Principles and Practices (policy document)

U of T Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life - Strategies for Recruiting an Excellent & Diverse Faculty Complement (policy document)

U of T Department of Medicine - Gender Equity Guidelines for Department of Medicine Search Committees (policy document)

U of T Department of Medicine - Recruitment of Faculty Members to the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto (policy document)

Centre for Health Equity, Diversty and Inclusion - Search Committee Training Modules (workshop materials)

Chronicle of Higher Education - How Search Committees Can See Bias in Themselves (news article)

Canada Research Chairs - Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Best Practices for Recruitment, Hiring and Retention (policy document)

Ontario Human Rights Commission - Interviewing and making hiring decisions (policy document)

Admissions Process

U of T Postgraduate Medical Education - Best Practices in the Applications and Selection (policy document)

The Association of American Medical Colleges - Rooting out implicit bias in admissions (article)