Ladies, Watch Out For ‘This Guy’ While You’re Interviewing


There is speculation that if we put a face to discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) then it will be easier to combat; however, the truth is that prejudice comes in many forms, from explicit hatred to micro-aggressive comments. A recent study also show that even those who claim to support equal rights can harbor internalized bias.

Psychology of Women Quarterly released a study examining the implicit and explicit bias in a group of men who interviewed female job applicants. As explained by Fortune, the study was broken down into three parts:

1. Men were presented with a series of men’s and women’s names and asked to quickly associate them with positive or negative words related to competence. Positive words included leader, competent, knowledgeable, and consistent, while negative words included follower, incompetent, ignorant, and inconsistent. This portion of the experiment was designed to detect implicit bias.

2. They were then asked specifically about their views on women and their competency in the workplace. This measured the participants’ explicit bias.

3. The men conduced mock job interviews with female candidates

When being interviewed by men with high levels of implicit bias, women did poorly, which is to be expected. The shock factor came from discovering that it was men who showed low levels of explicit bias that contained the highest levels of internal bias, meaning these were men who told the researchers that they believed women were competent in the work force. These are supposed to be the “good” guys.

Ioana Latu, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University, identified a few of the factors behind this issue. According to Latu, facing a biased interviewer can lead to a “serial effect.” The more negative the interviewer becomes, the more the woman speaking with him loses confidence. In addition, women are often derailed by non-verbal cues of the interviewer’s bias, which contradict what they are explicitly expressing.

So how are women expected to deal with these issues? Mainly by being prepared, knowing about these biases, researching how the company treats its female employees, and selling yourself as a woman in business. We may not be able to control the interviewer, but we can prepare ourselves and stand our ground against sexism and gender bias.

 Image c/o David Sillitoe/Guardian

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