Measuring Unconscious Gender Bias: Scale Development & Multi-industry Validation

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Amy Diehl

Amber Stephenson and I presented our unconscious gender bias scale development research at the 2018 Academy of Management Annual Conference in Chicago, IL. This research was developed in conjunction with Leanne Dzubinski and David Wang.

We presented our new scale, SUBTLe – Scale for Unconscious Bias Towards Women Leaders. This new scale measures women leader’s experiences with unconscious gender bias and to our knowledge, is the first of its kind to measure how women leaders are affected by such bias. This scale was developed using an intentionally diverse data sample: women leaders in higher education and faith-based non-profits, as well as female physicians and lawyers.

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Amber Stephenson

The SUBTLe instrument will be helpful to organizations wishing to diagnose the level of bias women experience and to gain a fuller understanding of how their organizational culture is affecting women employees. Using this instrument, organizations will be able identify the types of bias present within their organization and apply resources accordingly.  For example, often organizational assessments yield high-level, general recommendations for improvement (e.g. “your organization is biased”).  However, SUBTLe – instead – can isolate the particular aspects of bias so that resources can be directed in more efficient and effective manners to intervene against specific bias where and when needed.

In addition, individual women may use the scale to understand how unconscious bias may affect them personally and professionally. Several members of our research sample noted this benefit in their responses to open-ended survey questions.

Our manuscript detailing the SUBTLe instrument and our findings is currently under journal review. Stay tuned!!

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