Imagine a world in which gender equality is the norm. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and
discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Marked annually on March 8,
International Women’s Day is one of the most significant days of the year, that celebrates women’s economic, social, cultural, and political achievements and rallies for their equal rights.
Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a beautiful moment for all of us to reflect on and celebrate the strides made in women’s empowerment globally. A level playing field is essential to allow women to move ahead in their respective fields. Whether deliberate or unconscious, the bias makes it difficult for them to do so.
What does a world free of bias look like?
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘breaking the bias’ and it’s about
working towards a world free of stereotypes and discrimination that is diverse, equitable, and
inclusive. It’s a world where difference is valued and celebrated. In many countries, women are still
excluded from forms of decision-making and positions of power, consciously and unconsciously. It is this mindset that must change and highlighting and addressing this issue is a good place to begin.
Conscious bias has been a damaging social issue for some time but only recently has unconscious
bias been given similar attention. Unconscious bias is probably the most common form of
discrimination. It is almost like people have been programmed, over many years, to believe and see
people of different ethnicity, gender, religion, or disability in a different light to themselves. Whilst
many forms of unconscious bias may be harmless, unfortunately, most forms do cause people to
suffer. Of course, if the bias is unconscious, it is harder to identify and solve. That is why talking
about the issue and highlighting common types of unconscious bias can help more people realize
and understand the negative repercussions of it. It will take time, but through annual events such as
International Women’s Day eventually, awareness will be at an all-time high and unconscious bias
at an all-time low.
Collectively we can all #BreaktheBias.
A bias refers to the disproportionate weight given to an idea or thing, usually in an unfair,
prejudiced, or closed-minded manner. Unconscious bias is how a person thinks that has been shaped by their life experiences. Sometimes they have beliefs and views about other people that might not be right or reasonable. Unconscious bias, on the other hand, refers to decisions that are influenced by false beliefs or assumptions rather than bias. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between the two forms of bias, a lot of the time an example of bias may share similar characteristics to that of unconscious bias.
In today’s society, gender bias is the term often used to refer to the preferential treatment men receive over women. Another term for gender bias is ‘sexism’, the prejudice against women solely on the basis of their sex. As well as gender bias, there are also other forms of unconscious bias that disproportionately affect women and they are all most prominently visible within professional settings.
Let us look at some striking statistics.
• 42% of women experience gender discrimination at work.
• 5 of the 14 top barriers women face in the workplace are related to discrimination and gender bias.
• 40% of men and women notice a double standard against female candidates.
• 6.6% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women.
These statistics are alarming rather than encouraging. This is a charge to each and every one of us to put in our own efforts no matter how little to promote the inclusivity of women in places of work and decision-making.
Together we can break the bias!
Happy International women’s day once again