by Margaret Wente
Originally published: August 8, 2017
Unconscious bias is the invisible enemy of workplace diversity. So goes the conventional wisdom.
Unconscious bias explains why the higher echelons of government and business are still so pale and male. It explains why women are still so woefully shortchanged in STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It explains why we need to move even more aggressively to recruit women and minorities – as federal Science Minster Kirsty Duncan, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and countless other progressive leaders believe.
Unconscious bias is not a myth. Take the case of orchestra musicians, who used to be overwhelmingly male. When symphony orchestras moved to blind auditions – having candidates play behind a screen – the number of women who won spots shot up. Research also shows that many job recruiters favour Anglo-Saxon-sounding names on résumés over ethnic ones, even if the résumés are identical.