Wax discusses unconscious bias of race and gender

Published: November 24th, 2008

Category: Events, News Briefs

University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Amy Wax visited the Levin College of Law to present “The Discriminating Mind: A Discussion of Unconscious Bias Based on Race and Gender” on Nov. 19. Wax discussed what she referred to as the “unpleasant facts” about American life, including the persistent disparity between blacks and whites in regard to academic achievement, home life stability, and job success. Wax focused on sources and outcomes of unconscious racial bias against blacks and cited a study performed by Harvard University called the “Implicit Association Test” that asked Harvard undergrads to match black faces and white faces with either positive or negative traits. Surprisingly, participants — even black participants —associated more negative traits with black faces than with white faces. Wax cautioned that while such a study has yielded provocative findings, Harvard undergrads are not a sufficiently socioeconomically diverse group to be considered representative of society at large, and that additional societal factors must also be considered when identifying unconscious racial bias. For more information about Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test, or to take a demo test, visit https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.