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Unconscious Bias at MUSC


To provide search committees for senior and faculty level leadership positions with unconscious bias training and pertinent information. Tuesday is the primary day that the Unconscious Bias Faculty Scholars are available for potential training opportunities. For further information you may contact Dr. DaNine J. Fleming.

Beginning Spring 2019 there will be a 4 hour comprehensive Unconscious Bias workshop provided to the enterprise. Registration information will be in MyQuest.

Unconscious Bias (UB) is one part of the overall Diversity and Inclusion work across MUSC. 

Diversity and inclusion refers to the richness of human differences and the intentional engagement with each other through professional development, education, policy and practice.  Diversity and inclusion is about stories.  It encourages us to notice who is at the table and who is missing from the discussion.  As we become more diverse, we have more frequent encounters with what is unfamiliar.  Consequently we may find ourselves more surprised by our own assumptions.  Recognizing and intentionally working on our UB is the next step in encouraging and supporting healthy conversations, behaviors and policy around MUSC.

UB—also known as implicit social cognition—refers to thoughts and feelings that are outside of conscious awareness and control. Although we all would like to believe that we are objective and capable of judging people solely on the basis of merit, over 20 years of research demonstrates that we generally fall short of our self-perceptions (see Banaji et al, 2003). There are many forms of cognitive biases which humans have developed out of the need to rapidly process new and extensive amounts of information.  Unconscious bias can be particularly insidious because what we are unaware of we don’t address, and we may unintentionally promote.  Increasing awareness of bias and assumptions and their role in evaluation is an important first step in minimizing their influence. There is a vast amount of literature on unconscious bias. This page provides links to some online resources for further exploration and understanding of unconscious bias as well as a list of suggested strategies for minimizing bias in faculty recruitment. 


  • AAMC: Unconscious Bias: Exploring Unconscious Bias in Academic Medicine

In this 30 minute video, AAMC Chief Diversity Officer Marc A. Nivet Ed.D. interviews Howard Ross, Founder & Chief Learning Officer of Cook Ross and author of Reinventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance. Dr. Nivet and Mr. Ross explore how and why diversity efforts plateau at institutions, what role unconscious bias plays in these situations, and discuss how to mitigate unconscious bias to increase the success of diversity initiatives.


  •  AAMC: E-seminar: What You Don’t Know: The Science of Unconscious Bias and What to do about it in the Search and Recruitment Process

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that unconscious bias may influence the evaluation and selection of candidates from entry-level to leadership positions in all types of organizations, including medical schools and teaching hospitals. This presentation, created for academic medicine audiences, is designed to acquaint search committees and others with this research as one step toward mitigating the effects of unconscious bias.

E-Learning Seminar: What You Don't Know: The Science of Unconscious Bias and What To Do About it in the Search and Recruitment Process


Damion Jones, Inclusion & Diversity Lead at Monsanto, gives advice on how to respond when someone tells you "I don't see color in the workplace."

Suzi Russell-Gilford, a tax partner at PwC, gives advice to women on how to respond to "What Does Your Husband Do?" Russell-Gilford also explains why it's never safe to assume facts about someone's personal life.

Marc Womack, Chief Operating Officer, TD Auto Finance, gives advice on how to respond when someone has a preconceived notion of your appearance and says, "you speak so well."


Implicit Association Test. Explore your personal unconscious biases. Project Implicit is a non-profit organization founded by researchers from the University of Washington, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia. Its goal is to educate the public about hidden biases and to function as a virtual laboratory for collecting data on unconscious bias. The link takes you to a page where you can take online implicit association tests (IATs) relating to different types of unconscious bias, including skin-tone preference, sexuality preference, the link between gender and science, age preference, the link between gender and family versus career, racial preference, weight preference, disability preference, and others. For a list of articles relating to IAT procedures and application, visit here (pdf).

Managing Unconscious Bias workshop. Facebook recorded its internal training program on managing unconscious bias and has made the videos available to the public. The link provides access to the video presentation, which is divided into six brief modules. Presentation slides and a bibliography of reference materials are also available for download.

Interrupting Bias in the Faculty Search Process. The University of Washington’s ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change created a training video and facilitation guide to help faculty search committees uncover and address unconscious bias in the faculty candidate evaluation process.


Strategies for Minimizing the Impact of Bias in Recruitment

Set forth below is a list of specific interventions for addressing unconscious bias in the context of faculty recruitment. The strategies, adapted principally from WISELI's Searching for Excellence and Diversity® Guide (see pages 35-59), are grounded in research.

  1. Start with recognizing the research on unconscious or implicit bias and consider the influence bias and assumptions may have on judgment and deliberation.
  2. Search committee members can take an online Implicit Association Test (IAT) to investigate their own unconscious thoughts regarding some pervasive social stereotypes in our society.
  3. Set ground rules for search committee meetings (e.g.: no interrupting other committee members).
  4. In advance of a search, facilitate structured discussions around the academic criteria for evaluating candidates so that the search committee has a unified conception of what criteria to use, how to weigh them, and how to measure quality within a given domain.
  5. Use structured evaluation templates for reviewing applications, job talk evaluations, and one-on-one interviews. These templates should include both quantitative rankings of job-relevant criteria and qualitative written information. For quantitative rankings, forms should provide instruction about what type of behavior/achievement corresponds to each level of score.
  6. Spend sufficient time evaluating each applicant and minimize distractions when reviewing applicant materials.
  7. Familiarize yourself with the literature on unconscious bias.
  8. Be aware of your own potential biases.
  9. Encourage others to call out incidents of bias.
  10. Use inclusion rather than exclusion strategies in making selection decisions (e.g.: include for further consideration those applicants the search committee deems to be qualified as opposed to excluding those it deems to be unqualified).
  11. Agree in advance on a set of interview questions that will be asked of each candidate.
  12. Be prepared to defend each decision to advance or eliminate a candidate.

Unconscious Bias Faculty Scholars at MUSC

Dr. DaNine Fleming  Dr. Tamatha Psenka

Dr. DaNine J. Fleming

Unconscious Bias Faculty Scholar
Director of Training and Intercultural Education
Associate Professor

Department of Academic Affairs Faculty
Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Dr. Tamatha Psenka

Unconscious Bias Faculty Scholar
Assistant Professor

College of Medicine

Department of Family Medicine


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