What is the definition of “bias”?

A bias is an “inflexible positive or negative, conscious or unconscious belief about a particular category of people.” For purposes of my work, I use “bias” to encompass what most people think of as “stereotypes” and “prejudices” as well as that long list of “isms” that plague our workplaces on a daily basis. From sexism to racism to ageism and lookism, bias is a problem we all share.

The tricky thing about biases is that they can be about good or bad qualities. It is as biased to assume, “All Asians are good at math” as it is to believe “All men are sexist.” Whether a good generality or bad, biases are characterized by an inflexibility that leaves the target of the bias inaccurately perceived and, in most cases, badly misunderstood.


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