Stereotypes and Biases
Stereotypes and biases are everywhere in the world and they affect everyone. The first step in conquering these diversity obstacles is to be more aware of what stereotypes and biases are and how they affect our lives.
A stereotype is a generalization about a person or group that can be positive or negative. Typically stereotypes are exaggerated descriptions that lump all people with certain characteristics into one group.
Everyone uses stereotypes and sometimes, even without wanting to, we form opinions of people based on stereotypes. Making assumptions about other people prevents us from appreciating the unique ideas each person has to offer.
Examples of stereotypes:
- Women are more emotional than men.
- Wealthy managers are snobs.
- Japanese employees are smarter with technology.
- Men from the Middle East are sexist.
- Black people are more athletic.
- All Texans like country music.
- All Republicans own guns.
Biases can be positive or negative but generally mean that someone has a personal preference. A person can be biased towards certain political beliefs, certain cultures, certain races, or any type of characteristic or ideology.
Typically past experiences form biases. If you have a positive memory of working with a certain type of person, you are inclined to believe another person with similar attributes will be good to work with. The same is true with negative memory associations.
It is normal for people to have biases and preferences, but these become a problem when someone allows their biases and preferences to interfere with their ability to make impartial, objective decisions.