Testing an Intervention for Recognizing and Reporting Subtle Gender Bias in Promotion and Tenure Decisions


Women make up the majority of doctoral degree earners yet remain underrepresented in tenure-track positions within the academy. Gender disparities result in part from the accumulation of subtle, typically unintentional biases that pervade workplace structures, practices, and patterns of interactions that inadvertently favor men. However, the subtle nature of gender bias makes it difficult to detect and thus diminishes the likelihood of action to address it. We experimentally evaluated the effectiveness of a brief intervention, the Workshop Activity for Gender Equity Simulation in the Academy (WAGES-Academic), which was designed to increase recognition of subtle gender bias in the academic workplace. Participants (N = 177) completed either the WAGES intervention or one of two control conditions and later evaluated promotion and tenure materials of a woman faculty member who received either a blatant sexist, subtle sexist, or nonsexist review. Consistent with hypotheses, WAGES participants (vs. controls) detected more subtle gender bias (ps <. 02) and were subsequently more likely to report concerns about bias (ps < .04). Results suggest that low-cost interventions that educate individuals about subtle bias in a nonthreatening way may increase detection and reporting of gender bias in higher education institutions.


Psychological Science

Keywords and Phrases

Active learning; Discrimination; Experiential learning; Gender bias; Intervention; Sexism

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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Publication Date

01 Sep 2018