My Unconscious Bias

My Unconscious Bias

The problem with unconscious bias

I had no idea that I had an unconscious bias. I thought that I was being even-handed in having an equal number of women and men as guests on the podcast, Social Entrepreneur. Then, early in 2016, I counted. I was shocked. At the time, only 40% of my guests were women. I had no idea. That’s the problem with unconscious bias. I was not conscious of it. Data helps. Until I had data, I was not aware. So, I refocused. By episode 100, counting all the way back to episode one, 46% of my guests were women. Today, at episode 143, a little more than 48% of our guests have been women…counting from the beginning.

My goal is to ensure that at least half of my guests are women. This is important to me, not because of some self-imposed quota, but because at least half of the people on the earth are women. If I am not featuring an equal number, well, that’s on me. I have two daughters and and three granddaughters. It is important to me that I have guests that represent positive choices for them. As the actor Geena Davis says “If she can see it, she can be it.”

A few years ago, Geena noticed that, while watching television programs with her daughter, she did not see as many positive female role models as she did male. So, she counted. She formed the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media a research and advocacy organization. They have created the largest body of research on gender prevalence in entertainment. Here are a few facts that they have found:

  • Female Actors are outnumbered 3:1 for speaking roles.
  • When it comes to actors playing medical practitioners, there are 5.75 male actors to one female actor.
  • Men play attorneys or judges 13 to one when compared to women.
  • And when it comes to college professors? Well, there are 16 men featured for every one woman professor.

These numbers matter. If the girls in your life see someone like them in important roles, they might aspire to take on these roles some day. If she can see it, she can be it. the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media helps studio executives to have data. It helps make unconscious bias explicit. It gives them data.

My Goals for Social Entrepreneur

I want any aspiring social entrepreneur in the world to be able to look at my work and to see herself or himself there. If they can see it, they can be it. While balancing the number of women on the podcast, I am also attempting to represent global South about as often as global North on the podcast…though I’m not succeeding. I love South-South social enterprises, but I have to focus on that more.

I try to find social entrepreneurs from different continents, but I have not been even-handed there. I just featured my first guest from the Middle East. I don’t know what took me so long.

I also did an exercise recently where I categorized my interviews according to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I found that in the last year, I had guests who are working on each of the 17 SDGs, but moving into 2017, I am using an editorial calendar to be intentional on giving a broad view of the SDGs.

It’s a lot to balance. But it’s also important. And to do so, I have to be conscious. The data helps.

About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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