Reducing gender bias in the review process
The following are some tips for reviewers:
- Before engaging in the review, reflect on the susceptibility of all humans to bias in judgment. The following resources can help:
- View this video: What You Don't Know: The Science of Unconscious Bias
- Please take 10 minutes to complete the Harvard test on Implicit Bias: Gender – Science test, and/or the Gender – Career test.
- Unconscious Bias [ PDF (264 KB) - external link ] – An overview that was developed by Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WWest)
- Review the learning module produced by CIHR: Unconscious Bias in Peer Review.
- Allow sufficient time and avoid multi-tasking when reviewing applications to allow for self-correction of bias related tendencies.
- Review the selection criteria before evaluating applications.
- Question whether your evaluation would change if the applicant were of a different gender.
- Guard against over-reliance on one piece of information or "first-impression".
- When writing or presenting your review, please:
- Avoid using stereotypical or interpersonal attributes when describing character and skills, (e.g., words like nice, hardworking, conscientious, dependable, diligent, kind, agreeable, sympathetic, compassionate, selfless, giving, caring, warm, nurturing, maternal, etc.);
- Instead, focus on research skills/achievements using words that describe the candidates research excellence (e.g., thought provoking, innovative, novel, thorough, detailed, impactful);
- Consider using 'stand-out' adjectives for both men and women, where appropriate (e.g., superb, excellent, outstanding, confident, successful, ambitious, knowledgeable, intellectual etc.);
- Use the nominee's formal title and last name instead of their first name. Avoid attributing the contribution of an applicant's work to the order of authors, as not all disciplines follow a single convention;
- Consider whether your comment unintentionally includes 'doubt raisers' (negative language, hedges, unexplained comments, faint praise and irrelevancies (e.g., 'might make an excellent leader' versus 'is an established leader').
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