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Prejudice and the Allport's scale

by In Wales Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 06:30:37 AM EST

I was grudgingly send off on diversity training for my organisation earlier this week.  I have been diversity trained half to death already and it has never been good training.  However, this time I was genuinely impressed.

The trainer focussed on prejudice.  How we all develop our biases and prejudices, how we can be aware of them and aware of how we 'leak' them, and where possible to reduce or eliminate some of the prejudices that we hold.  Always bearing in mind that we can never be prejudice-free but we can be conscious of our behaviour and the impact that it has on people around us.

We were introduced to the Allport scale - which much to my surprise I have absolutely never come across before. (more below)

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

It was devised by Gordon Allport in his work "The Nature of Prejudice" in 1954. To the best of my knowledge, Allport was commissioned by the US government after the war to look into the psychological causes to the Holocaust.  The idea being that if the causes were understood, then actions could be put in place to prevent this from ever happening again.  The report was never published by the US government because of the complexity of the causes and the near impossible nature of implementing actions to prevent the holocaust from happening again. Also in the context of the history of the lynchings of black people, and the near extermination of Native Americans, it was quite clear that the US was by no means any better than Nazi Germany in allowing such persecution of minorities to be taking place in their country.

The Allport Scale of Prejudice was set in the context of explaining how smaller behaviours, built up into what eventually became the extermination of the Jews and other minority groups.  The scale was also discussed in the context of the day to day office environment to show how subtle behaviours escalate into discrimination which can have a hugely negative impact on certain individuals and groups.

This means 'speaking against'. It involves, jokes and banter, targetting particular groups eg sexist jokes in the office, or the targetting of groups such as Jewish people in name-calling and other propaganda by the Nazis.  It has been suggested the the Danish cartoon fits into the antilocution part of the scale against Muslims.

The antilocution phase basically becomes the norm and a part of everyday culture that isn't really challenged or questioned.  It's just how things are.

This can be physical or geographical avoidance or factual avoidance eg the denial of the holocaust. It all causes exclusion and isolation of minority groups or individuals. The removal of Jews from their homes and being placed into ghettos was a form of avoidance since the Jewish areas were known and others could avoid them.

This is unfair treatment that disadvantages or denies access to particular groups eg in housing, pay and benefits at work, medical care, jobs etc.

(Subtle Aggression)
This wasn't in Allport's original list in the paper for the US government but was added in at a later stage because he felt that the gap between discrimination and physical attack was too large.

Subtle aggression works on an assumption of hierarchy, particularly hierarchy of power. Making the assumption that somebody has more/less knowledge based on their age, gender or race or other characteristics and deliberately excluding those who are thought to hold less power or are or less use than another.  Deliberate silences or 'looks' form part of subtle agression.

Physical Attack
This speaks for itself really, but can include attack on person or property such as, destroying belongings or papers that belong to a person, or targetting the homes of people belonging to a particular group.

The top end of the scale, in the context of the Holocaust this involved the murder of Jewish people and other groups targetted by the Nazis.  In an office context this could involve a person resigning or going off sick with stress or even committing suicide as a result of the behaviour they have been subject to.

It was quite shocking for my colleagues to see the parallel drawn between something as awful as the holocaust and their own behaviour within an office environment.  That office culture that exists which targets and humiliates individuals in the name of 'just having a joke' can have profound effects.  

I know that should I choose to challenge somebody on their use of language or on behaviour that constitutes harrassment and so on, that they will now be far more likely to understand where I am coming from and why I don't find some behaviours appropriate.  

If behaviour can be stopped at the antilocution stage, that is to change the environment of the office and to shift attitudes to create a more inclusive and respectful environment, then it is far less likely that we will find ourselves in a situation of having to manage discrimination issues or even something more severe than that.

Having legislation and good policies on equality and diversity isn't enough. Tackling people's attitudes from the core is incredibly important and this is the first time that I have come across training that has really made people genuinely think through their behaviours.

I'm guessing that any psychology people will have come across Allport - he seems to be fairly significant in the literature. He's done some work on the psychology of religion too. I'd be interested in any views on his work, since this is the first time I have come across it.

"Violence is always an outgrowth of milder states of mind" - Gordon W. Allport.

Quite the most interesting diary in some while...

I am not sure that gender is a real factor, but it is illuminating that so many good diaries seem to come, these days, from the distaff side of our membership. At any rate it would fit with my theory that the planet should become more matriarchal in order to survive.

Yin/Yang anybody?

Distaff BTW is a tool used in spinning. A rich analogy full of binding threads.

Oh, and now I check Wikipedia: In Norse mythology the Goddess Frigg spins clouds from her bejeweled distaff in the Norse constellation known as Frigg's Spinning Wheel.

Too friggin right...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 9th, 2007 at 06:05:40 PM EST
At any rate it would fit with my theory that the planet should become more matriarchal in order to survive.

A friend of mine recently proposed the same theory.

"There's too much of this," he said, shoving out his arm, fist clenched.

He also proposed re-introducing a goddess.  Coming from Egypt, he suggested Isis.


Turns out there's a fellowship of Isis.  Here's an interview with the almost-ninety-year-old co-founder.  To me, she sounds like a female Tony Benn.

A quote from the video:

Interviewer: If you could say one thing to everybody whose watching this, what would you say?

Olivia Robertson: One thing?  I'd say sharing.  We're all "I", and you don't want to self-sacrifice, give yourself up.  You are individual, you matter, but for goodness sake look out.  All you can see is the tip of your own nose.  I can't see my back, I can only see my feet, but I can look at you.  That's the secret really.  Look out--then you can see yourself.  Your real self.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:07:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
frigg's spinning wheel....

it's all right there, innit?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 02:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How nice to see Gordon Allport's work discussed. Allport's work was ground-breaking, but it was intended at showing how one group (e.g. Germans) would commit acts of terrible violence that other peoples would not do. Allport's work did not, of course, produce the intended result. His research showed that American subjects were capable of acting in profounding hostile ways toward other people, so the findings were not widely publicised.

However, Allport's work doesn't explain the major way prejudice works in most work situations, I think.

More recent social psych research and theory on prejudice has focused on actions that are not aggressive in tone. These are often the processes of obtaining advantages for and among the group that a person belongs to, not particularly or initially at the expense of another group. This often doesn't come down to a "people like us" vs. "people not like us", as much as just gaining advantages for the group you belong to.  

The differences between the advantages that one group has and  what other groups have isn't even on the radar for some of the people belonging to "people like us".  So, small things, that together accrue to the advantage of people that we see as like us, end up disadvantaging people who are not like us. That disadvantage can be real, and yet absolutely unrecognized.

A familiar example:  You go to lunch at work. Who are you most likely to invite to join you, Person A who is about the same age as you, of the same ethnicity and same gender? Or do you invite someone who is different on these characteristics? After work, you stop for a drink along with several co-workers. Are the people who go along mostly like you, or are they quite varied? Does this matter?

Well, yes, I'd say. The people that you have these casual relationships with, are those that you will know best if you have some benefit to pass out, some insider information to pass along, some favour to ask.  A network of relationships build, that leave out the people that are different. There is not an intention to deliberately overlook people who are different, but it happens, through the process. And you may be entirely unaware that this subtle kind of prejudice, in the form of simple comfort in the familiar, has led to more serious prejudice.

Over time, the persons in the other groups, those left out of the network of close relationships, may form their own groups in partial reaction to being repeated overlooked. They may develop animosity at being overlooked. And as time passes, suspicion can develop. Suspicion becomes resentment, misunderstanding, hostility, and so on.

If you add to this, overt prejudicial attitudes learned at home or from prior friendships, the process is faster, with worse results.

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Fri Feb 9th, 2007 at 11:18:39 PM EST
Thanks for the comment. I completely agree that there are other ways in which prejudice can develop and manifest itself. Research has shown that there is an inbuilt mechanism by which we are automatically more comfortable with people like us and less comfortable with people not like us.  I think that is why ignorance and lack of experience/contact with others is such a large part of how prejudice develops and is expressed.

I was impressed with the use of Allport's work because it was such an effective tool for quite quickly getting people to see the damaging effects of what they mostly all considered to be entirely reasonable office banter.

We did also discuss prejudice and how prejudices and biases can form.  The trainer again referred to Allport's work in terms of the different stages at which you are influenced by a range of external inputs such as family, education and peers. I felt that this was part of it but by no means all.

It didn't explain how some people (such as myself) who grew up with family who held and frequently expressed strong prejudices such as racism and homophobia, somehow didn't absorb this. I've also never been strongly influenced by my peers but this could well be because I was always one of those on the outside of the group.

It also begged the question of those people who are entirely aware that they hold prejudices but think they are justified to do so because it is based on 'facts' such as all black males are thugs and gang members, all gay men are paedophiles and so on.  Maybe this comes back to ignorance again but there are plenty of people who have absolutely no intention of trying to remove the biases they hold and are happy to deliberately discriminate against others.  The BNP and other far right political parties are examples of this.

So, I find all of this extremely topical right now with the threat of the far right continuing to rise.  It's hard enough to tackle discrimination within a small office of less than 15 people, but expand this to entire countries and governments... It's a tough one to tackle.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The weaknesses within any structured group of workers are rarely revealed, because the abilities of the members of a group to function as a real group are rarely challenged in extremis.

I've worked quite a lot with movie crews - up to about 30 people. And the dynamics are very interesting to observe. Firstly (we are talking film, not television), everyone is usually a freelancer and though many have worked together before, the group as a whole is unique. Secondly, external social life tends to disappear during the production due to location, timetables etc. So social behaviour focuses on the group. Thirdly, working conditions are often physically extreme - long hours, weather, physical effort, concentration etc.

The short term bonding that takes place is often very powerful. It is often based on compassion and humour. You have to rely on others so much not only to do their jobs, but also to help you do yours.

Perhaps one other motivation exists too - the fact that the group is working toward a concrete end. There is a vision, you can see that vision being realised further each day, and there is a satisfying sense of completion when shooting is completed.

Then another group (the post production team) takes over to bring that vision into a self-contained little reality. There is often little overlap between the two groups, but strangely, when the movie is completed and the two groups share the occasion, there is always the feeling of one big group.

Movie production is always hierarchical, but it is tempered by a massive horizontal organic structure. The future of organizations is in how to balance or fuse these two - the vertical and the horizontal.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 04:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course the extreme case of self organisation and necessary combination of vertical and horizontal occurs when carrying out aggression ie the military.

A different form of shooting....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 05:57:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I was going to make that comparison - but decided to keep it simple ;-)

There are always two main elements: the strategic and the tactical. In one sense these are different magnifications of the same thing. In military campaigns the mediating factor between the two is intelligence (Game Theory, broadly).

In business, intelligence should play the same role. But it doesn't. In military structures, the intelligence (or rather the raw data) is bottom up. In business organizations it is often top down, and that explains why business needs new types of organizations.

Iraq is a good example of the misguided application of corporate methods to the military. Where you have strategic vision uninformed by bottom up intelligence or, worse still, strategic vision that ignores such intelligence, then the tactics that aim to implement such visions are always going to fail.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:31:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should add, (though you, Chris, are very aware of this) that the cellular structure of 'terrorist' groups and the hierarchical structure of what they are fighting against is a classic SOS v linear dynamic. Herds v packs, or flocks v predators.

IMO 'terrorism' can never be defeated by linear methods. The War on Terrorism is doomed to failure. As long as the injustices and conditions that led to people adopting such extreme attitudes continue, terrorism will not be stopped.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:47:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think those are the conditions that are close to ideal in breaking down prejudicial beliefs. Having a common goal, and having to absolutely depend on collaboration with persons who would otherwise be avoided, can force people to confront their mistaken ideas about "different" people. True social acceptance doesn't automatically proceed from this, of course, but it is still an excellent first step.

I will not soon forget the post-doc in our lab who was astonished to find that it was not "well known" that Irish persons were of lesser intelligence. When he had to team up with two Irish lab staff he began to realise he might be wrong.

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:45:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding is these types of organization (temporary/goal directed) have a lateral-in-time consistency through the personnel while any particular legal/physical organization are only one-off's.  In a one-off organization, a film project, the focus-puller is very likely to have been a focus-puller for the DoP before so that's where the 'organization' exists.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 11:22:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is true that the structure can be cellular, the DP group, the sound group, gaffers etc, in Hollywood. The European, and in particular the Finnish system, have adapted to low budgets - usually Film Foundation money and/or TV sourced finance. That leads to a different 'feel' on set - though my comparative experience with American practice is limited to some small projects, and the anecdotal evidence of colleagues.

There are no stars in Finland, no divas. Everyone eats together. I doubt if you could recognize the producer on set purely from the age or clothing. In fact, this morning, an actor who has a lead role in an upcoming TV series dropped round to see me because he was in the area. He had just been helping the key grip on that production move some bluescreen carpet to a studio nearby belonging to the State TV company, Yle. I think that illustrates the differences.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:49:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A wonderful study by Ashutosh Varshney, speaks to this issue. The question was why some cities in India had terrible outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence, whereas very similar Indian cities, with equally divided ethnic populations, did not have such violence. The research team examined a multitude of expected predictors: Education, poverty, etc.

What emerged as a key difference were interethnic networks of civic engagement, e.g. professional organisations and informal social networks.  When these were organised across ethnic lines, there was a lack of violence. When they were organised within ethnic groups, violence was much more likely.

Of particular interest was the finding that it was the formal, professional organisations, rather than informal social networks, which were the more important factor. Varshney suggests that these formal organisations are more robust against the attempts of politicians and others who attempt to stir up ethnic conflicts. The very formality of professional associations helps insure that civil discourse and common goals are emphasised over narrow ethnic interests.

[This article is not directly available on the internet, but can be accessed through many university libraries: Varshney, A. (April, 2001). Ethnic conflict and civil society: India and beyond. World Politics, 53(3), 362-398.]

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When these [professional organisations and informal social networks] were organised across ethnic lines, there was a lack of violence. When they were organised within ethnic groups, violence was much more likely.

This is a very good argument against communitarianism.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 11:26:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

This is a very good argument against communitarianism.

And a good argument for multiculturalism/affirmative action/discrimination positive.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun Feb 25th, 2007 at 06:39:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the implication is that antilocution is an early stage of extermination, then I can't possibly agree, because that sounds far too simplistic.

Banter is very difficult to assess, and probably impossible to eliminate. Any groups that overlap will always have some level of banter, and I'm not convinced it's always a bad thing.

I think it only becomes a bad thing when it's used as an excuse to depersonalise the other group.

But it's the depersonalisation of members of the other group that's the problem. The banter can be a part of that. But it can also be anywhere else on a spectrum from genuinely friendly to very competitive without actually being pathological.

The problem I have with the framing is that it's putting the cart before the horse. You can't use the Nazis or the Klan to make points about diversity training because they're pathological to start with. They begin with hatred of The Other, and everything that happens after that is a logical progression of that hatred.

If your culture doesn't promote that hatred  forcefully, the worst that will happen is some of the more paranoid people will drift into avoidance. But it's the constant external reinforcement that breeds the pathological hatred in the rest of the population and leads to the next stages. I don't believe they happen naturally without it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 06:51:47 AM EST
Were all of Hitlers' followers necessarily pathological to start with?  With Nazi Germany it was a leader like Hitler who managed to persuade people that his beliefs/prejudices were to be bought into and that his orders regarding these groups that he had a hatred of were to be followed.  So the negative images and the hatred of Jews and other groups was continually reinforced.  But it all started somewhere, whether it was a natural escalation or not. Earlier on Jews were often the target of name calling, cariactures and stereotypes and these were reinforced as 'fact' thus making it justifiable to dislike and discriminate against jews.

Worth bearing mind that the path towards extermination doesn't have to begin at antilocution and can start at any stage above that.

It sounds simplistic but antilocution sets the scene and the culture and then continually reinforces the messages that come out of it eg an office environment where women are not treated as equals or with respect. That then builds up into the exclusion and marginalisation of women within that workplace and can in cases go further into indecent assaults and so on. Just as an example, it could be applied to any other group where things just escalate and go too far because nobody has stepped in to stop it sooner or individuals don't have the confidence to challenge the behaviours that upset them.

I agree that a certain amount of banter is healthy but it depends if and how somebody is being targetted by that banter and the impact it has on that individual. Where the environment is such that if someone complains about being offended by a joke, they are automatically dismissed with "it's only a bit of fun, don't be so sensitive", then it is allowing exclusion and reinforces the message that it is ok to target and discriminate against people.

Perhaps in a more academic sense there are flaws with making the comparison between the holocaust and people being nasty to each other in the office, but in the training environment, it worked extremely well.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:47:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you've pinpointed one of the difficulties of using Allport in some situations: It is far easier to focus on and discuss extreme forms of bigotry than to deal with subtle forms of bigotry that are more likely to characterise daily interactions.

Banter is fun, but I'm not sure it is harmless when it focuses on stereotyped differences. I think there is a difference between banter among people of two different, but interacting groups, who are working together, versus two groups that see each other as competing or of markedly different status, versus people who are joking solely within their own group.  

The first type of banter may be acceptable when there is a degree of balance between the groups, and both are comfortable challenging each other and the banter is not damaging to their working relationship, e.g. neither side has to swallow resentment. The second type of banter may be expected, but isn't necessarily good (athletic challenges descending into riots come to mind). The third type of banter may seem harmless, but I think it can slide over into acceptance of a prejudiced view that will affect relationships outside the group, e.g. reinforcing stereotypes.

I do agree, however, that expansion of prejudices into wiping out ethnic groups is not automatic, nor simple. It requires charismatic, coercive, and educational actions on a wide public scale over a period of time to build to the point that such actions become acceptable.  

by Kspeak (thorfinn at skip this ameritech dot net as usual) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 07:58:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with your last point especially.  

It makes me wonder, can the reverse motive be made to work the same way? Or does strength of feeling such as hatred play an important role?

ie can we continually, in a high profile way, promote acceptance, inclusion, tolerance etc through use of charismatic leadership, education and so on (not necessarily coercion but possibly through regulation...)

Would that work? Or is it the focus and emotional investment of having something fairly specific to work towards that is the key to success eg getting rid of Jews, or getting that woman out of our laddish workplace...

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 08:23:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has been suggested the the Danish cartoon fits into the antilocution part of the scale against Muslims.
This is the reason I thought the Great Cartoon Controversy was not an issue of freedom of speech.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 10:49:16 AM EST
One thing that most "ethnic cleansing" seems to have in common is a feeling by the aggressors that they are the injured party. The hated minority is blamed for society's failings.

So in the US the blacks are blamed for crime and high taxes (caused by giving too much to people as welfare). In Germany the Jews were blamed for the economic conditions after WWI.

Even when the differences aren't racial the minority group is stigmatized as with intellectuals during China's Cultural Revolution.

There is always a leadership group who benefits by redirecting the anger of the majority group against the hapless minority and thus distracts people from examining the real causes of their discontent.

The fact that so many people are so easily turned into willing followers is another area that has received much study. After WWII it started with Adorno and his colleagues. Most recently has been the work of Robert Altemeyer who has called this the Authoritarian Personality type. Here's a nice literature review of the correlation between those who need to be directed and right wing political beliefs:
Political Conservatism...

I'm sure there are some innate behaviors that makes us treat the "other" differently, but for it to turn into mass action seems to require an economic/political goal.  

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 02:02:20 PM EST
THIS...is an excellent article, thank you very much! Good stuff! <more! more!>

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 06:32:42 AM EST
Thanks! I will have to hope that inspiration hits me to produce more good articles.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 07:48:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To find out your own prejudices, I recommend the Implicit Association Test.

It is generally quite revealing.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 08:16:06 AM EST
Yes I have done that test before.  Even when you know what the test is looking for and you try your hardest to avoid proving it right, the results are extremely telling.  That's another thing that when coupled with good diversity training really helps people to explore their biases.

Thanks for putting that in - I do recommend that people have a go at that (it may be easier for first language/fluent English speakers though).

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 08:57:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just took the Gender-Science IAT. The background questions about oneself have a strong US-centric bias, and 1) they ask you whether you think that a factor is important or now, rathen than whether you think the factor is true or not; 2) they ask you to predict what fraciton of males/females at a typical US educational institution will do this or that thing - again, is it a question about facts, or about attitudes.

The particular topic of women in science irks me, because when I was a student at university in Madrid there were some scientific degrees dominated by women (Chemistry, Biology) and no noticeable discrimination in Geology, Math or Physics, while the number of women studying engineering was higher than you would expect from the conventional wisdom (or direct experience) in English-Speaking countries. To me, as long as I was in Spain, this was a non-issue.

I have to say I am not particularly impressed and don't feel like taking the other tests. For instance, I expect to be asked questions about the interactions between race and socioeconomic characteristics in the US, without distinction of whether I am being asked about facts or opinion, or about correlation or causation.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 10:05:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't especially care for the questions either, but the interesting part arises from the way you associate the words with the categories and the speed at which you do that when it becomes more complex.  I'm not sure of the purpose behind the questions unless they are trying to correlate people's biases as shown by their reactions to the implicit association test itself and their background and concious knowledge of their prejudices.

My chemistry degree also had a high proportion of female undergraduates, but go up and up to PhD, Post Doc level, teaching posts, professorships... what do the proportions look like there?  In my experience, it is extremely male dominated at the higher levels.  It is also hugely inaccessible and these two reasons combined are why I decided to abandon my ambition to be an academic researcher.

Perhaps the UK is the worst culprit, but I doubt it is a great deal better elsewhere - I've attended events/conferences/symposiums in a number of European countries and they have all been very inaccessible and had a majority of male speakers.

I happen to be speaking at a few events at the moment about disability and gender issues in the workplace and I use my experiences of the physical sciences as an example to illustrate multiple discrimination against disabled women.

And before you go tutting at that, I have plenty of examples of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation against women and against disabled people that myself and other colleagues have come up against and I'll gladly share some of those if you want to discuss it.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 10:22:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What does it look like?

Take the Faculty of Chemical Sciences at Complutense University in Madrid, for instance...

The Dean is a man.
3 of 5 vice-deans are women.
1 of 2 secretaries is a woman.
The head of administration ia a man, then there are four women under him running the sections.
As for the departments:
15 of 27 professors of Biochemistry are women
6 of 14 professors in materials science are women
In chemical engineering: 2 of 11 "chairs", 7 of 12 tenured professors, 5 of 9 professors under contract, one assistant professor, 2 of 5 associates, 0 of 3 assidtants, and 1 of 2 hired researchers are women
3 of 8 professors of applied mathematics are women
In analytical chemistry: 2 of 4 "chairs", 12 of 19 tenured professors, 4 of 6 hired professors, 0 of 1 associate professor, 1 of 3 Assistants, and 1 of 2 research fellows are women
14 out of 42 professors in Physical Chemistry and 3 out of 8 postdocs are women
In inorganic chemistry: 2/7 chairs, 12/18 tenured professors, 2 of 4 hired professors, and 5/7 associate professors are women
In organic chemistry: 1/10 chairs (4/5 of a lower tier), 7/15 tenured professors (3/3 of a lower tier),  7/10 hired professors, 1/1 associate, and 1/1 assistant are women

As for the student body, it's been over 50% female for years.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 10:46:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's pretty decent, is there a similar pattern across Spain?  It certainly isn't the case for the UK.

There is a campaign and support/resources within the UK to get more women into sciences and engineering and to persuade those who left to come back. Add that to strengthening equality/discrimination legislation there is slow change in some universities but not the Redbrick ones to any significant degree.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 12:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the thing: in Spain, hiring at the University level is not discretionary, it is done be committee according to national standards and via competitive examinations. The same is true of, say, the awarding of Ph.D grants, access to medical internships, or the various branches of the legal profession. This leads to a high level of equality of opportunity. The reason the system is designed this way is precisely the very strong cultural tradition of nepotism and clientelism. Nepotism persistsbut the system is strongly meritocratic and, as a result, more egalitarian.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 12:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's interesting, thanks.  Miles apart from the UK system.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 12:54:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another problem I have is that they give you 4 categories and then they tell you which words they define in each category. Then they train you to match words with categories, then to match words with two categories in the "standard prejudice" way, and then to match words with two categories against the prejudice. It would prefer for them to have just one series of questions in which not only the words but also the categories changed randomly. The way the test was, it seemed to be designed to cause mistakes in the last round.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 03:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you just annoyed that it has told you you are prejudiced when you don't think you are?

The reason that 'mistakes' are made in the last round is because we unconciously have strong associations for certain words for each of the categories.  Even if on a concious level we think we don't. It simply illustrates that.

I don't especially agree with the wording of the results as 'you have shown a strong preference for x,y,z' - I think 'shown a strong association of' is a better way of phrasing it. Some tests say association, some say preference - and you don't have to answer any of the questions in order to take the test and get a result.

I expect that it does change across cultures and countries and for me it changes across categories too.  I still think it is interesting as an indicator of where associatons/prejudices lie.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 03:47:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The reason that 'mistakes' are made in the last round is because we unconciously have strong associations for certain words for each of the categories.  Even if on a concious level we think we don't. It simply illustrates that.

I'm annoyed because there's no need to 'train' you in the opposite direction, but they do it anyway.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 04:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it just to compare the differences in reaction speeds?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 04:08:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you randomized the categories as well a  the words you could extract the categories from the aggregate data and you would be sure the order in which you do the exrcises is not affecting the results.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 04:20:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

But I think the order - standard/not-standard prejudice - is randomized. And I think I have seen somewhere on their site that they correct results for the standard effect of order. I am not sure of either as it has been a couple of years since I was really into those tests.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 06:28:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that the subjects of the tests and the in particular the questionaires are very US-centric. Some of the tests therefore measure prejudices not relevant in say Spain. I tested the weapons-race one which gave me little or no connection between black/white faces and weapons/harmless objects. That is quite unsurprising considering I do not come in contact with guns much and there are few stereotypical cultural images in my surroundings regarding ethnicity and weapons, except the one that finns carry knifes which this test does not really measure. None of the white faces looked finnish.

Speaking of women in science a friend of mine went to a conference for women in physics which was totally dominated by indian women. Because apparently in India physics is not a very masculine thing to do, but rather a feminine pursuit. So that particular test would need to measure other cathegories then science/liberal arts connection with male/female to be valid in India.

What I like about the site is not their questionaires but the test themselves. Because some are relevant for my cultural context. It is likely that I prefer, say white or young over black or old. To actually measure it gives me some points of references to observe my own behaviour and change it.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 11th, 2007 at 12:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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