Hidden bias: How companies can tackle unfair recruitment practices

Despite anti-discrimination laws, recruiter bias is as prevalent now as it was 50 years ago, and prejudices about gender, ethnicity and age are limiting people’s job prospects. The knock-on effects on society and business are serious, so what can recruiters do to reduce the effect of implicit bias on who gets hired?
The bias crisis: what’s in a name?
Writing the perfect CV isn’t easy. Each word must be carefully chosen to maximise the chances of landing your dream job. But what if the most important word in the document isn’t about your education, career history or experience but is simply your name?

Researchers at the Centre for Social Inequality in Oxford sent thousands of similar fake CVs to a wide range of employers. The only difference between  them was the applicant’s name and the inclusion of a second language, designed to signal the sender’s ethnicity. On average, people thought to be from ethnic minorities had to send 60% more CVs to get a similar chance of a call-back, d...

 

 

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Who’s asking the questions?

How can it be so difficult to ask a question? And why are men almost twice as likely to do it than women?

It’s the end of a research talk. You are easily the second most qualified person in the room after the speaker. A question comes readily to mind. And yet… somehow… your arm remains by your side. Before you know it, six men have asked 'questions' that demonstrate either that they weren’t listening or want to talk about their own, not necessarily relevant, research. Afterwards you berate yourself for yet again not raising your hand. How can it be this hard?

The fear does not necessarily diminish with age or seniority. In April 2014 I decided to go for it at a climate change meeting. As I raised my hand, my heart pounded. I mumbled my question into the microphone, having to restart at least once. To this day I can remember neither the question I asked nor the answer, only the panic and flight-response to the adrenalin surge. I was not an early career researcher. I had been a cli...

 

 

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The deep roots of impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome is widespread amongst women and can have a negative effect on their careers. Where does it start, and what can we do about it?

"I don’t belong here. I'm a fraud. I’ve tricked my way into my position, and it’s only a matter of time before someone finds me out."

Unless by some small chance you happen to be a professional con artist, the above is likely not true. But those kinds of thoughts will strike a chord with around seven out of ten people reading this.

“With every good grade I was afraid that I didn't deserve it, and had somehow fooled the examiners,” said Daniela, a physics PhD at the University of Sussex, who first experienced anxiety during her bachelor’s degree. It only intensified during her master’s.

“The feeling of not being good enough, not living up to the expectations and having managed to trick my application committee for the PhD into believing I was good enough was overwhelming. I'm a really self-critical person, and with those feelings on...

 

 

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Should you become a STEM communicator?

For many people who work in STEM, and especially those in research, science communications or 'scicomm' has become an essential part of their job. But if you're not already engaged in scicomm, should you start?
Why communicate science?
Science is in demand: Journalists are always looking for stories, politicians and campaigners need information to develop policy, fellow citizens want to understand the world around them, and entrepreneurs are looking for new products. STEM research has never had such a wide and varied audience.

On the other side of the coin, STEM institutions are realising that clear and accessible communication of their research is essential to building good relationships with – and gaining the approval of – their communities. Funders are also seeing the value, and frequently request that grant applicants explain how they are going to communicate their findings to stakeholders and the public. And employers, whether in academia or industry, increasingly recognise t...

 

 

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