Are you biased? I am | Kristen Pressner | TEDxBasel

Are you biased? I am | Kristen Pressner | TEDxBasel

Translator: Ivana Krivokuća
Reviewer: Denise RQ Let me just get this out there. I have a bias against women leaders. No one can be more surprised
about this than me. I’m a woman leader. And on top, I even work
in human resources, which means it’s my job to be unbiased. In fact, I passionately encourage women
to step into leadership. My poor kids would definitely tell you
I never stop talking about it. But in spite of my strong belief
that women make great leaders, I’ve realized I don’t always act like it. Not long ago, within the same week, two members of my team asked me
to take a look at their compensation. My first reaction to the man’s request was
something like, “Yeah, I’ll look into it.” My first reaction to the woman’s request
was something like, “I’m pretty sure you’re good.” Day or so later, I’m sitting at my desk,
hard at work, and I somehow connected what up until then I’d seen
as two separate events. I had two very different reactions
to basically the same request, and I thought, “Huh, what’s up with that? Might I be biased and not even know it?” But I know what you’re thinking. This is 2016, it’s not a topic. Women leaders are everywhere. Maybe you, like me, have personally hired
or promoted lots of women leaders. But then I thought,
with all this talk of unconscious bias, might something be going on
that I’m not even aware of? You know, if it’s unconscious and all. For those of you who might not
already have been inundated with this in the corporate world, it’s a simple concept,
and it’s backed up by neuroscience. Our brain has to handle
way too much information, so in order to manage it all, our brain takes the liberty
of looking for patterns and filtering for us what it sees
as the most important bits, like autopilot. Our brains take shortcuts. Without these shortcuts, we’d have to sit and really think through
way too much information. Imagine if every single time
you had to think through everything from how to open doors
to how to shake hands to how to sing “Happy Birthday.” But brain shortcuts do have a downside. Because they see patterns
that are based on the cumulative effect of everything you’ve been exposed to
throughout your life, which means the whole thing is happening
also in the back of our minds, which means we’re not even aware
that it’s happening. This can cause us to behave in ways
that are not true to who we want to be, or how we feel we are,
and we might not even know it. Unconscious bias sounds kind of clinical, but I looked it up, and other words
for unconscious are: comatose, paralyzed, or senseless. And other words for bias are bigotry,
intolerance, and unfairness. That would mean
we’re not just unconsciously biased, we’re actually senseless,
intolerant bigots. (Laughter) So, that’s not something I want to be,
consciously or unconsciously. And here’s the scary part:
most of us think we can outsmart it. We believe it when we say things like, “I don’t see race,”
or “I just hired the best person.” It just so happened that at the time
of the two pay requests, I was doing research on unconscious bias. And the research said
these are our expectations of men. We expect them to be assertive,
and strong, and driven. And these are our expectations of women. We expect women to be helpful,
and sensitive, and supportive. If we were to make it
a little bit tighter, we see men as taking charge,
and women as taking care. No, it’s not because
every single one of us is a misogynist. It’s simply because men taking charge
and women taking care is what we’ve mostly been exposed to
throughout our lives. And our brains will do the rest, unconsciously redirecting us
into those patterns that it recognizes. Still feeling like this bias
couldn’t possibly belong to me, one of the words jumped out at me. Wait a minute. Do I see the man as a provider, and so I looked at his pay request
more seriously? And do I not see the woman as a provider,
and so I’ve somehow dismissed her request? In that moment, I had to realize I do. I see men as providers, but not women,
which is really interesting because I’m the sole financial provider
for my family of six. My husband is a stay-at-home father
for our four children. I take charge. And he takes care. I’m the last person I can imagine who could ever have a bias
against women leaders, and yet I had to realize
I have a bias against women leaders. I have a bias against myself. And if you’re thinking, “Wow, bad on her” (Laughter) unfortunately, I’m not
the only one with this bias. The research shows that we all
have a bias against women leaders. We just don’t know it. I had both a man and a woman
ask me for a raise at the same time, so I was confronted
with my different reactions, real time. And I could notice it when I was
accidentally treating people differently. Luckily, that happened,
and I realized in time, but how many times
have I not caught myself? How many times
have you not caught yourself? So what’s the antidote
to being a senseless, intolerant bigot toward women leaders or anyone else? It’s a big stretch to imagine
that we’ll always have the opportunity to crosscheck our reactions
with two different people in real life. But I’ve realized we don’t need to. We can do this comparison mentally,
and it’s just as eye opening. Just mentally flip
whoever you’re dealing with for someone else to test yourself. Like here. I made a slight change to this slide. I flipped the photos. Does anything on this slide feel weird? Flip it to test it. If it feels weird,
you might want to check yourself. The more I tried it,
the more I saw the value. In fact, there’s this Twitter account
that just flips the gender of things we commonly say,
and suddenly, they become funny. “Being called a Policewoman
doesn’t bother me at all, because I know it covers
both women and men.” Andrew, Policewoman, age 40. (Laughter) Or let’s take my hometown baseball team
of the Cleveland Indians. Flip it to test it. How would you feel to be up in the stands
cheering for the Cleveland Caucasians? (Laughter) Now, maybe you’re thinking,
“This doesn’t happen to me.” And maybe you’re right. Maybe you are a superhuman person
who manages to intercept those brain shortcuts
at exactly the right moment to ensure you’re behaving bias-free
and consistently with your values, and beliefs, and all of your actions. It could very well be. But what have you got to lose
to double-check yourself? If we all started to flip it to test it,
we might just be surprised at how often we would choose
to behave differently. Because what if you’re missing
an opportunity to see the world differently? Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Are you biased? I am | Kristen Pressner | TEDxBasel

  • You know, after watching this talk about five times, AND spending time with the speaker, IT'S STILL GREAT and resonates!

  • The best ideas are often the simplest and you've articulated a great one here Kristen! Being brave enough to admit that you uncovered your own unconscious bias too will give others pause for thought too to take the time to "flip it to test it" – I know I will! Excellent talk.

  • I am completely inspired by this talk and its a good provocation to reflect on our own biases. I was grown up by my mum to be as strong, independent and as successful as a man. I am the mother of 5 and i am bringing my boys up to be as strong, independent and successful as my girls. Change starts at home and becoming more conscious of bias can help both our girls and boys be better people.

  • Kudos to Kristen Pressner for an insightful view of unconscious bias. Here is a link to the Bias documentary sizzle reel:

  • #requiredviewing. The concept of 'unconscious bias' is volatile for so many people, especially when/if someone tries to bring to their attention they're exhibiting bias. Many/most react defensively, worrying there's a sidecar of judgment. What if we just accept that our brains DO 'autopilot' and filter for us, even when we don't know it at the moment? What if we put the same energy into pro-actively exercising the #FlipItToTestIt protocol periodically? Seems a much better use of time/energy than sticking to the argument that unconscious bias doesn't exist.

  • This is great! I salute Kristen for being so honest about her own bias and explaining the concept of unconscious bias so clearly and eloquently – and in a way that I believe the most of us can relate to. "Flip it to test it"! 2 thumbs up! … and 2 toes up! 😉

  • LOVE this talk! We ALL have unconscious bias and Kristen "flip it to test it" is a great way to gaining self awareness around my own bias. Thanks Kristen

  • Kristen, you're an inspiration – able to articulate these issues with such ease, and brave for admitting your own mistake, when not many would publically admit to such; the 'flip it to test it' idea is perfectly on point. Thank you for leading the way!

  • I love this talk!  I work with many men that don't see their unconscious bias but the women  definitely see it.  I'll push the flip it  approach on them and challenge myself with it as well!

  • This is an excellent presentation of unconscious bias – a term that is rooted in psychology and neuroscience and yet Kristen has brilliantly shown us hot we are all unconsciously bias – based upon her own experiences.
    Additionally, her "flip it to test it" exercise is fantastic and something I plan on operationalizing in both my professional and personal life.

    Bottom line – we don't know what we don't know!

  • Kristen –
    Appreciated your TEDx talk summarized with 'flip it to test it'. You walked me into the situation, helped jigger the paradigm, and offered a valuable tool to test the view. Very helpful for reevaluating lifelong presumptions. Kudos…and thanks.

  • Such a concise and powerful message. So often we see other people's biases but not our own. Great leaders, like Kristen, challenge themselves and take responsibility for getting it right. "Flip it to test it" is also a super actionable insight we can all apply. Congratulations Kristen! The world need more leaders like you.

  • Great talk, if more leaders would be open to talk about their biases we would truly see diversity and inclusion working in the work place.

  • So impressed with this talk on many levels: asking the question that very few dare to, Am I biased? Naming it in a way that is transparent, exploring and producing a clear test that will display what we are doing. #flipittotestit

  • Flip it to test it: love it, it's such an simple, quick way of checking our own unconscious biases and gaining some empathy at the same time! I also love how she talks of bias as something we all have and isn't necessarily intentionally malicious. It's something we all need to practice continuously to check ourselves.

  • Love this! What courage to admit and bring awareness to your own bias. Thanks for making us all stop and think about our own unconscious bias. Flipping the situation is very eye-opening!

  • No matter how self-aware we are, we are all still products of the societies and cultures we're raised in, so none of us are immune to biased thinking. The 'flip it to test it' tactic is a great way to check ourselves, and I always encourage people to use that as a thought exercise.

  • This is one of the best, quick intros to Implicit Bias I have seen. Kristen Pressner gives perfect examples that really ring true. We need more awareness and we need to help each other by calling out bias. Everyone should see this.

  • Kristen exposes unconscious bias. Easy to understand and hold up against your own actions. May just be the tipping point!

  • As a result of Kristen's courage – to look within, to be honest, and then to share via such a public platform – she invites us all to do likewise. Her message is critical – for both women and men. If we want to change the world to make it fairer – for ALL – we cannot ignore our unconscious biases any longer!! Kudos to you, Kristen!
    – Katrine (Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean, WINC)

  • Kristen's willness to share her personal "AHA" moment illuminates unconscious bias and provides practical "flip test" to check ourselves. Bravo.

  • Incredibly brave to admit to your biases but I think if we don't nothing changes. More Leaders should do this. Great video and Kristen it was great to hear your thoughts on this in person last week. I better start flipping to test it right away! Thanks!

  • nice to talk, but it is real big reality…society generally did not accept this…i am suffering this since years…in this man made culture power is only concern…

  • Wow, what an eye opener. Of course we are all biased, more or less, i´t like you said part of our nature. Using this #flipittotestit test is a beautiful way to deal with this and it would make the world a less stressed place for all of us if we use this test often.

  • With everyone else, I really appreciate your courage and the clarity of your message. For my part, I am particularly thankful for the positive way (vs a chastising one) you have framed this outstanding contribution. It makes it easier for many to stop, listen, and follow. Let's keep at it and cheer for the Cleveland Caucasians. Many thanks!

  • bias is built into the dominant ideology which refers to "a system of practices and representations that produce, maintain, and reproduce social relations of domination" Tod Sloan.

  • This is one of our favorite videos on 'unconscious bias' and its simple technique 'flip it to test' can be so easily applied. Still think you're not biased? Try it yourself.

  • #FlipItToTestIt – this is very powerful. great presentation Kristen. Takes a lot of courage for someone in your position to come out and say what you have – and that makes it all the more powerful and inspirational.

  • This is a must see for everyone!!! Kristen delivers a bold and authentic talk! Great food for thought! Thanks so much Kristen!! Susan Trainor – SuTra Coaching

  • A thought-provoking, authentic presentation on a long-ignored topic. Flip it to test it can be applied to every area in our professional and personal life. Thank you for speaking up, Kristen!

  • As humankind, we are grateful for this brilliant #FlipItToTestIt movement and reality by Kristen Pressner. It's valuable, powerful, touching and inspiring – in its meaningful, brain-storming dimensions:

  • Unconscious bias has been talked & written about a lot in recent years, but this short, powerful and refreshingly honest talk suggests a simple but effective way to check ourselves: flip it to test it. Great stuff, Kristen Pressner – thank you!

  • Great observation and insight – especially the neuroscience part where you give details why we are acting the way we are. Unconscious Bias is a real issue within our working worlds. Thank you!

  • Great point of view! It really made me think, not only about gender but also about other bias. Try hard thinking out of the box, that´s what this is all about. Ah! and good for the speaker also! crystal-clear concepts and simple chat, but also with a great intelligent style. Bravo! #FlipitToTestit

  • Added to my UB training per direct! Including the example of the police(wo)man 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. The more I work on bias the more bias I discover in myself. In first instance it inspires guilt, but as I say to people who follow my training, it's not about making you feel guilty, it's about making you aware! It's that little tiny butterfly in your stomach that twitches and tells you something is not right, but you can't put a finger on it. This butterfly tells you it's time to slow down and take an extra careful look (and flip it!) 🙂

  • What an interesting situation to be in, with both employees being so close to asking for the same thing at the same time.

  • That flip it to test it happened with D.Trump and H. Clinton. 2 actors male and female were given the other candidates lines from one of the debates. The results were very interesting. Don't know the title, but you can find out what the audience thought and it shocked the audience. They ended up liking HRC more when she spoke DJT's words.

  • Inspired by your honesty, Kristen, and thank you for helping bring awareness to a topic we hate to admit is everywhere.

  • There is absolutely no compelling evidence that the "unconscious bias" revealed by the IAT is a valid method of predicting behavior.

    You don't even have to be a psychologist to know it's bogus either, I did one twice and got a different result both times.

    Did it change my fundamental values? Nope.

    Newsflash: If you get someone to do something as fast as possible and then get them do do it backwards as fast as possible the chances are that they'll screw up when trying to do it backwards, and to think that makes you unconsciously bigoted is just preposterous.

    Also, what's with all the fake accounts posting in the comment section? I'm looking at you, Google.

  • Unconscious bias is more severe in colored woman in leadership positions. Its a subject that is hardly ever discussed!

  • Great talk indeed …filled with wisdom ….guess we all have this unconscious bias which stops us from treating people fairly and also ourselves from achieving greater heights … however having a deeper awareness on this topic or issue as I call it is a first step towards solving this….mindful awareness of this topic through talks like this one is a great value add

  • Love the flip it to test it idea! But the most brilliant part is when we truly want to address unconscious bias we don't need to look for others to change their ways and attitudes, it must start within us! Very courageous for Kristen to admit she has bias against women leaders and this is where the change begins!

  • Part of the great power of Kristen's talk, and her suggestion, is that it can be used to combat so many biases. How powerful is that? Additionally, you will begin to see how the people you surround yourself with will begin to demonstrate the influence – which Michael A. Pitcher states is the very heart of leadership! – that you have by making enlightened and honorable changes. By focusing on your own behaviors and beliefs (as also noted by Natalia Wallenberg in an early comment) rather than focusing on how others should change themselves you can make lasting differences in our world. Bravo, Kristen, for a practical path to accelerating our individual paths to a higher, more evolved level of interaction!

  • Encouragement to thoughtfully grow and become intentionally better. Eloquent openness and self-aware honesty.

  • This is so simple, yet so effective – and truly inspirational…. It is not only highly applicable in the workplace, but also in our private lives and especially in the interaction with our kids. Our children will be setting the standard for the next generation workforce. I wish for them to encounter less bias than we must fight today. Thank you Kristen.

  • Awesome! Short, concise and thought-provoking…loved it! Does anyone know of the Twitter account Kristen mentioned?

  • Love your talk! Used it as an example at one of my diversity course project! My takeaway from this is ‘Flip it to test it’ concept. 😊

  • We all have biases, but if we recognize them and do something about them we can avoid to be limited by them! Amazing talk

  • Flip it to Test it is such a great tool for training employees. It doesn't require complicated explanations–just do the test. No fuss, no muss.

  • Beautiful and Amazing concept!!! I have tried this and it really worked and has helped me understand that yes there are thing which i need to really change and work on.. I am sure this will help everyone help understand their hidden bias.. Looking forward for some more videos from you Kirsten

  • This is an eye-opening video. Unconscious bias can truly affect the recruiting process one way or the other so it's critical we all are aware of our unconscious biases to not judge someone else's ability unconsciously. Great job Kristen!

  • I love this because Kristen is so courageous – it takes so much courage for a hr leader to admit her learnings . What a great role model

  • A simple mechanism, yet very effective, I recently used it while describing a point to my audience and to my surprise it worked perfectly .. thanks Kristen!

  • Phenomenal insights into how we have unconscious biases in our thinking-we all do-and steps we can take to mitigate the impact these biases may have in our work and personal lives. Everyone should take a few minutes to watch this TedTalk!

  • Great inspirational talk , it helped me change my perspective . We all have biases unconscious which led us catastrophizing our thoughts!

  • I have problems following her, because she makes so many breaks in between, it seems like she wants to let it sink in, while I'm constantly thinking like "yeah yeah, we know that, now get to the point."

  • What a great example to all speakers of a thoroughly genuine, congruent delivery style.  No false 'polish' or theatrical affectations.  Research has shown that the three things audiences want today are authenticity, transparency and vulnerability…and Kristen nails it!

  • I love this talk! The world needs more women leaders and unconscious bias is a real hurdle for women in the workplace!

    What’s great about this talk is:
    1) it shows everyone has unconscious gender bias – even women against other women; or like someone once told me “everyone with a brain has bias”
    2) It is very actionable: we learn how to recognize unconscious gender bias, so we can correct it!

    Well done, Kristen Pressner! What a great & much needed talk! 🙌🏼🌺✨

  • I didn't agree with some of her points; they were from her personal experiences. I liked the idea of "flip it to test it."

    It solves so many problems, not just gender bias. Never react to any info you read, take a moment, look at the other side, process it and then react.

  • Kristen Pressner is an amazing speaker. She addressed this topic with candor, humor, and honesty. Intend to incorporate the Flip It to Test It suggestion she gave into situations which I confront in the future.

  • Kristen, your flip it to test it is so powerful because it is so simple and practical. I use it regularly. Thanks for all that you do.

  • Kristen Pressner does an incredible job sharing something about our collective unconscious bias against women leaders.

  • Kristen Pressner’s 8 minute talk is very impactful. Unconscious bias is particularly hard to uncover- her ‘flip it to test it’ concept is particularly useful to me in my work as an Exclusion Exterminator in this space.

  • That is what i always say. Before giving any negative judgement, put your shoes in the person shoe and see if you can do better. It is always good to flip to test it

  • Check in on your brain shortcuts to root out hidden bias. Flip it to test it! This is terrific! I want to quilt this!!!

  • thx for calling these out Kristen! I hope most of us (men) dont feel attacked when we start to talk about it.. (otherwise it will be hard to fight it)

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