Guest post by Jenny Hertel.
Unconscious biases (also known as implicit biases) are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.
Generally, biases are helpful and adaptive because they enable us to make efficient judgements and decisions with minimal cognitive effort. But they can also blind a person to new information or inhibit someone from considering valuable options when making an important decision.
Unconscious bias influences every aspect of our lives, from the classroom to the boardroom. Bias impacts our relationships, workplaces, technology, and even our justice system. Even if we know these biases exist, the question becomes: what can we do about them?
That’s the question that the IU Center of Excellence for Women & Technology (CEW&T) hopes to explore by screening bias, a documentary feature from Finish Line Features, LLC and Unleashed Productions, Inc at the IU Cinema on April 2.
In this film, award-winning documentary filmmaker Robin Hauser seeks to highlight the nature of unconscious bias. Robin follows her journey to uncover her own hidden bias and then explores methods of reshaping her thinking. Along the way, she speaks with dozens grappling with the issue, from academic researchers trying to understand bias to mayors and CEOs battling biases in their backyards.
“I consider myself a fair-minded person, but the more I learn about unconscious bias, the more I see how it influences my life,” says Robin. “My closest friends are a lot like me. I make assumptions about people based on their appearances and where they grew up. I began to wonder: what biases do I have that I am not aware of and how do they affect my choices and actions? From these questions, the bias documentary was born.”
Robin is no stranger to IU and the IU Cinema. In March 2016, CEW&T hosted Robin at the IU Cinema for a screening of her last documentary CODE: Debugging The Gender Gap, which investigated why fewer women are pursuing computer science and software engineering and included interviews with IU School of Informatics, Computer & Engineering associate professor Nathan Ensmnger. She will again be present for this screening, and IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie will facilitate a Q&A session afterwards.
Please join us on April 2 as we explore the nature of implicit bias, the grip it holds on our social and professional lives, and what it will take to inspire change. Tickets are FREE and can be picked up at the IU Auditorium box office prior to the screening, or ordered online with a $1 service fee here.
This screening is brought to you by CEW&T, the IU Cinema, UITS, The IU Women’s Philanthropy, CEWiT Black Women in Technology (with funding from the IU Funding Board), IU Libraries, and O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs. It is also part of IU Cinema’s International Arthouse Series.
Jenny Hertel is the Associate Director for Operations & Communications with the IU Center of Excellence for Women & Technology (CEW&T). She holds a B.A. in Journalism from Franklin College and a M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction Design from IU’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Before she began working for CEW&T in 2013, Jenny was a Usability Specialist with IU’s University Information Technology Services (UITS). Her 24-year career in IT also includes technical support positions with UITS, IBM Global, Zurich Financial Services, Lincoln Financial, and Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. She is a NCWiT Academic Alliance Member Representative for Indiana University, and she is the Selection Committee Chair for the Indiana Regional Award for Aspirations in Computing.