Understanding Unconscious Bias and Micro-Aggressions
A Workshop Series
When we encounter such unconscious bias and the microaggressions that often find their origin in these biases in our SEAS environment, it can impact our students in one way, while impacting our faculty in another, our staff in another way, and our alumni in yet another. Each encounter has a limiting effect on our progress as engineers. For students, it might be the impact of team work in a classroom project or club; for faculty, it might be relevant to a search committee; for staff it can mean the difference between a great and not great place to work; and for an alumna it might affect one’s success in the workplace.
While studies show that such bias is not changed overnight, bringing issues of such bias to light over the course of a year should permit the SEAS community to recognize our biases and, most importantly, change our actions to mitigate the impact of the bias.
For the 2019-2020 year, the Center launched a series of programs for student leaders, incoming students, faculty and staff. We hope to expand to session for alumni during e-week.
How will this be different from existing GW programming? GW has a prepared presentation on diversity training and unconscious bias. Additionally, the website for the GW Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (https://diversity.gwu.edu
) has many links faculty, as well as students, can follow.
The Center programming is based on active learning. We have chosen two activities developed under NSF grants, the Buffalo card game and Micro-aggression activities as a basis for learning and discussion about unconscious bias. These two activities will enable participants to experience their own unconscious biases, to reflect on how to continue to be aware of them and to develop a personal toolkit to help them deal with real situations where unconscious biases or microaggressions appear.
So far, two student groups and two faculty departments have participated in the training. Other sessions are planned for November.
During e-week on February 12, 2020, the Center plans to coordinate “Why Engineering Needs Many Voices” during the newly expanded e-week. We will have a few opportunities for SEAS community, including alumni, to engage in activities such as Buffalo or Micro-aggression (if they have not yet done so). The staff of the GW Office of Diversity and Inclusion has offered to present a few workshops during the day as well. We will end the day with a major speaker on the topic – speaker to be identified.