6 examples of Unconscious Bias at work that you may not notice

Published on: Fri 13 January 2017 by Admin


It’s hard to believe that in this day and age Gender Bias is still a big deal in the workplace. With passionate speeches on gender equality from big names like Emma Watson and Victoria Beckham, last year saw the start of (hopefully) some big changes! However, Gender Bias is still prominent in so many workplaces, with little to nothing in place to help those affected.

Definition of Gender Bias

Gender bias is a preference or prejudice toward one gender over the other. Bias can be conscious or unconscious, and may manifest in many ways, both obvious and subtle, and for or against both men and women.

Am I Experiencing Gender Bias?

If you think you might be experiencing the impact of Gender Bias in your workplace, but you’re not entirely sure, check out our list of scenarios below to see common examples, and what you should do if you come across them:

6 Gender Bias Scenarios:Am I Experiencing Gender Bias

1st Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

A female colleague raises a good point in a meeting with her male and female colleagues. She is subsequently ignored. A male colleague then raises the same point, and is not only acknowledged, but praised as well.

6 Gender Bias Scenarios

You may be thinking “oh the boss maybe didn’t hear her!” but more often than not this can come down to unconscious gender bias. Sometimes male members of senior management will automatically take advice from colleagues that remind them of themselves.

In this situation, it’s advisable to not back down, but not to be aggressive. Once the colleague has stated your same point, and they’ve been praised, kindly thank your colleague for voicing their agreement to your initial idea. Slowly but surely, your boss and your colleagues will get the message!


2nd Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

You and your wife have been struggling with childcare and being able to take advantage of the company’s flexible working scheme would really take the pressure off. But you don’t know any other men who work anything other than the ‘normal’ hours. Flexible working seems to only ever be offered to female members of staff with children.  You mostly your worried that it might affect your chances for future promotion.

company’s flexible working scheme

Schemes like Flexible Working are open to both men and women. Just because it doesn’t seem like it’s the ‘done thing’, the brave thing to do is take responsibility for what you need to have a good work-life balance and as a result be more focused and productive in your role. Someone has to lead the way and challenge the status quo – why shouldn’t that be you?

3rd Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

You know the female senior manager in your company, and aspire to be like her. But you hold yourself back because you think that if you get promoted, no other female employees will get promotions in the future – they only have limited space for female senior staff!


That’s enough to really annoy anyone, but when it’s related to Gender Bias, it could be even worse. It can lower self-esteem, which means that you’ll be less likely to want to speak out later on, or work with that particular group again.

You’ll need to step up in these situation and take charge, speak to your line manager about it and make sure your voice is heard. This could involve you stepping out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it! That way you’ll definitely get the credit that you deserve!

4th Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

Congratulations, you’re pregnant with your first child! Aside from the obvious questions like “is it a boy or a girl?” or “when’s the baby shower?” you keep being asked the same question again and again – “are you planning on coming back after you’ve had the baby?”


Don’t worry, they still love you and don’t want to see you leave – but nonetheless, it might feel like they are calling into question your commitment to your role. They’re asking if you’ll still be 100% dedicated to the job, or if your new arrival is going to change things. While not a totally an outlandish question you don’t hear the question being asked to your husband. The best thing to do is talk to HR or your line manager about your intentions and the process so both parties are confident and happy about the process.

5th Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

A new position has become available in your office that you’re dying to go for – Head of IT. But you keep hearing rumblings around the office that the other candidates that have gone up for the job are male. To make things more interesting, you’ve noted that not only are you more qualified for the job, you know other female staff that are too scared to go up for the position because of the male competition!

what is unconscious bias in the workplace

It’s a hard call. Do you push yourself to get that promotion against your male colleagues and face the funny looks, or do you step back and let the men go for the role? If you want to make the most of your career, you would push yourself in this situation.

It’s silly to think that certain jobs have genders associated with them. Almost every job can be completed by either gender, so don’t worry about it if every other candidate is a male – it doesn’t matter! Do what makes you happy and you will eventually succeed!

6th Scenario of a Gender Bias Situation:

Another management position has come up, and it’s been narrowed down to you and another male colleague. You’re equally matched in every area, so it’s just coming down to the personality. The interviewer asks why they should pick you. Your answer? You have more empathy and people skills than your male colleague. After all, those traits are more common in women.

turning the tables and becoming gender bias

Stop right there! You’re now turning the tables and becoming gender bias! While you think what you are saying is correct, you don’t know what you’re saying for certain. Your male colleague may have better people skills than you, and a healthy balance of empathy.

When this kind of situation arises, it’s good to sell yourself in a way that shows off your measurable skills. Always hitting deadlines? Talk about your ability to time manage. Never missed a day? Highlight your glowing attendance record. Measurable business skills means you can back up what you’re saying, instead of relying on blind luck – and that promotion will be yours!

If you would like to know more about gender bias and unconscious bias within the workplace, then please get in touch with us today to find out how we can provide your business with the right solution.