The uncomfortable fact is that you probably believe that women are incapable of making smart decisions.
If you were asked to respond “Yes/No” to the above question, there is every likelihood that, apart from some good humoured jokes about women and decision making, your response would emphatically be in the affirmative. The uncomfortable fact is that you probably believe that women are incapable of making smart decisions.
These reflect the hidden biases all of us suffer from. Most of us have grossly delusionary and inflated self-perceptions of how ethical or unbiased we are. The Yale psychologist, David Armor, calls this “the illusion of objectivity”. When quizzed, we are likely to say that we believe women to be smart, that they can do a job as well as any man, that they have the talent to rise to the top of the hierarchy and that we do not believe professionalism is gender driven. In other words, we believe we are fair, open-minded, unbiased and objective.
Following years of collaborative research, Professor Mahzarin Banaji of Harvard University and Anthony Greenwald of the University of Washington demonstrated that all of us hold unconscious, or implicit, biases which can be contrary to our consciously held, explicit beliefs. They conclude that the prevalence of these biases suggests that even the most well-meaning person unwittingly allows unconscious thoughts and feelings to influence seemingly objective decisions. Their research exposed, for instance, how we might consciously believe that a candidate’s race, physical features, colour, sexual orientation or gender might have nothing to do with our hiring decision and yet, unconscious biases actually drive us into taking flawed decisions.
Read Full Story: Can women take smart decisions?
Written by Amit Dasgupta (a former diplomat and author of Lessons from Ruslana: In Search of Transformative Thinking (Harper-Collins), is part of the S P Jain School of Global Management.)