Shocked at my Unconscious Biases

And I thought I was open-minded and bias-free

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

For the longest time, I have believed that I am very open-minded, not quick to judge, and definitely above carrying any prejudices or biases in my head.

Clearly, I think too highly of myself!

I even wrote an article about unconscious bias. All my examples and illustrations are about biases I have observed in others, and I turn my nose up at such folks.

View at Medium.com

Sadly though, I am faced with the harsh reality often. I am as biased as the next human. I carry deep prejudices without even being aware of them. Each time I recognize something like this, I try my best to get rid of it.

I worry about how many of my biases are unknown to me and therefore causing me to behave in ways that I probably would not, if I was not biased.

My Bias is Exposed

Recently, I was chatting with a friend on WhatsApp, and she commented about my post about biases. She said it was well-written.

She then teased me about my general knowledge and wondered if I want to answer a quick quiz question.

I jumped at the obvious bait.

She sent a photo of two little kids. A boy wearing a sports cap, and a tiny girl in pigtails.

She asked me to guess the name of the famous cricket captain in the picture.

I guessed all the obvious ones. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, etc etc. Even went back in time to guess the names of some of the older captains. Especially since the picture looked like an old black&white.

My friend kept saying ‘wrong’ to every answer.

Finally, she gave me the correct answer. The answer was Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team.

Not once had I glanced at the girl in the picture.

I was shocked and embarrassed. How could I be so prejudiced? Why did I assume that cricket captain meant a boy?

Mithali Raj is well-known for her accomplishments in the field of cricket. She is a formidable force and stands pretty tall for her achievements. I’ve read about her often.

And yet…

Apparently, in my head, cricket is still a male bastion! Isn’t that the obvious conclusion? But I have never consciously thought this way. Ever! So this is somewhere deep in my subconscious. Hidden from my own view, and manifesting itself when I am not looking! Scary!

I’ve learned from this, and I will hopefully never display this kind of gender bias again.

But other biases? Other situations? What else is hiding beneath my so-called open-minded exterior?

I am scared of unconscious biases.

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