Unconscious Bias

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology is committed to creating a safe, supportive, equitable, and bias-free environment for learners, faculty, and staff.  

We aim to increase knowledge and awareness in unconscious bias and outline fair processes required to prepare students with professional success. 

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. 

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: 

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

How to assess your unconscious bias

Gender & Leadership Implicit Association Test (IAT) on the WISELI (Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute) website. Initially developed by Dasgupta and Asgari (2004), and was used as part of an NIH-funded study to promote Bias Literacy (Carnes et al. 2015).

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. 

Online training and resources available

Unconscious bias education module from Advancing Equity and Inclusion, Temerty Faculty of Medicine

The Unconscious Bias Education Modules were created at UTSC in an initiative led by Professor Maydianne Andrade, Department of Biological Sciences at UTSC. It is intended for faculty and staff and provides an academic approach to understanding Unconscious Bias.

Access the modules - UTORID needed.

The Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence (TIDE)

A collection of resources and statements on diversity and inclusion at the University of Toronto.

They also offer training and workshops to faculty groups.

A video (1 hour) of their session: Unconscious Bias and Challenges to Fair Assessment is available on Vimeo.

Association of America Medical Colleges

Offers a free online seminar: The Science of Unconscious Bias and What To Do About it in the Search and Recruitment Process (registration required). 

They also now offer resources and advice for Conducting Interviews During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

 Requirements for committee work in LMP

Before undertaking any committee work in LMP, you need to:

  1. Watch the video (1 hour) Unconscious Bias and Challenges to Fair Assessment on Vimeo
  2. Take the Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT)
  3. Then complete the online acknowledgement form.

If you have previously completed the e-learning module, you do not need to complete this module again.  


For Faculty Search Committees

For admissions processes