ABC News has collaborated with and frequently republishes articles from The Conversation:

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

Our team of professional editors work with university, CSIRO and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.

Access to independent, high-quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to allow for better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversations.

The Conversation isn’t exactly “independent”, however:

Without the support of Founding Partners The Conversation would not have started. So it’s hats off to CSIRO, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of Technology Sydney, and University of Western Australia who saw the value of helping us develop a new independent information channel that would also showcase the talent and knowledge of the university and research sector.

A recent The Conversation article – “Unconscious bias is keeping women out of senior roles, but we can get around it” – by “founding” partner University of Melbourne psychologists was republished by ABC News but is not “independent”, “high quality” or “authenticated”.

A disclosure statement at The Conversation reveals that co-author Dr Melissa Wheeler has “engaged in paid and pro-bono consulting and research relating to issues of social justice and gender equality”. The ABC omits this vital information.

Dr Victor Soto’s disclosure statement doesn’t mention paid consulting but his page at the Centre For Workplace Leadership is more forthcoming:

For more than a decade, he has worked as project manager in occupational health psychology research and consulting for police and defence departments, professional services firms, and mining and energy companies in Australia and Venezuela.

The two University of Melbourne psychologists describe a very iffy link between unconscious bias and gender imbalance in the workforce:

Affinity or similarity bias is where people seek out those who share their backgrounds, group membership, or experiences.

If hiring managers and boards of directors are made up of mostly men who unconsciously engage in such bias, it stands to reason more men than women will continue to be hired and promoted — particularly men who share the same background with current managers. 

This only serves to perpetuate the cycle of men outnumbering women in leadership positions.

“If” and “it stands to reason” are poor substitutes for reliable and valid data generated by rigorous research.

It is easier to take the perspective of someone who resembles your own demographic characteristics or past experiences than that of someone who has had a very different upbringing or set of experiences.

Demographics have nothing to do with the matter being discussed.

In itself, the [hiring] process described may not seem problematic.

However, in many instances underrepresented groups may be unwittingly discriminated against in recruitment due to affinity bias.

May, or may not.

Men hold the majority of chief executive and chair positions of Australia’s top-200 publicly listed companies.

Many women might well make the entirely sensible and admirable decision to put children and family ahead of work.

2015 study found there was greater gender parity on academic journal editorial boards when the chief editor was high-performing, a younger professional and a woman (that is, 26 per cent women on boards as compared to 16 per cent under lower-performing and older male editors).

These findings are very promising. They suggest younger professionals may be more used to working closely with female colleagues than older generations are.

This leads them to be more likely to bypass the affinity bias, or even to see the female candidate as part of their in-group — regardless of gender.

Perhaps these younger woman were promoted by men on the basis of their perceived ability to manage and generate profit and then show affinity bias in picking female underlings.

Regardless, Australia’s national broadcaster is dominated by lefties keenly promoting social justice warrior opinion as news. A few minutes of online research reveals that the Implicit Association Test , for assessing unconscious bias in its various guises, is a sham.

It’s a crock.


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