I took a test to find out if I'm biased against women leaders
Most of us would like to think we don’t hold biased opinions about other people. When candidates like Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina enter into the race for president of the United States, their womanhood shouldn’t affect how we see them and, more importantly, how we vote. At the same time, however, we also know biases can be so deeply ingrained in us that they can only be determined by taking a good hard look at our subconscious. So, to help people uncover their real views, the American Association of University Women created this test, which claims to be able to tell if you are biased against women leaders.
The implicit association test gives you a series of traditionally male and female names followed by words that describe being a leader or supporter, and you have to match them into categories as fast as you can. Would you say “Diane” is a man or a woman? Is a an aide a leader or a supporter?
Then, things get a little more complicated.
The website switches up the different terms (sometimes it’s Male or Supporter vs. Female or Leader) as well as the keys they’re associated with, so by the end of the test, it’s just your gut instinct acting whenever a word pops up on the screen.
I’ll admit, taking this test scared me a little. I’ve always identified as a feminist, but I was concerned that more closely my gender-based associations would reveal latent sexism deep in my brain that could be affecting how I see myself as well as other women. (And yes, internal biases against yourself are totally a thing: They can manifest in the ways we police how we talk, or hold ourselves back in the workplace.) It’s definitely uncomfortable to ask oneself, Am I subconsciously biased against women leaders?
According to the AAUW’s test, I don’t seem to associate men with leadership any faster than I did women. Whether its an election or in the workplace, I can rest easy knowing that, based on this test at least, my decisions are totally untethered to gender.
You can take the test yourself here. If your results read differently, then that simply means there’s room to open up a discussion inside yourself about where these biases against women leaders might be coming from and how to be aware of them when living every day life.