Dr. Chris Kilmartin offers several presentations this week on gender bias and implicit prejudices.

If you go

Who: Dr. Chris Kilmartin
What: “Crimes Against Nature,” solo comedy theater performance.
When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 21
Where: Multicultural Center, Room 352 University Center
Admission: Free and open to the public
Information: https://www.facebook.com/events/939715139536373
Sponsors: Women’s Studies Program, the Departments of English, Psychology and Performing Arts, and the College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Committee.

The guy sits in the back of the classroom, slouched in his desk, baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, lots of tattoos in full view.

“My stereotype was activated. Part of me looks and says, ‘Uh oh, here comes trouble,’ ” said Dr. Chris Kilmartin, emeritus professor at the University of Mary Washington, author, stand-up comedian and professional psychologist.

“Prejudiced and less-prejudiced people don’t differ in stereotype activation. … I’m here to tell you I wish I could say I don’t have those activations, but I do. Everybody does.”

On Tuesday, March 20, Kilmartin was in Benwood Auditorium in UTC’s Engineering, Math and Computer Science Building, discussing “Implicit Bias Toward Women in STEM.” During his 75-minute presentation, however, he also examined prejudice as a whole—sexism, racism, religion, sexuality—and how it’s deeply ingrained within us even though we may think it’s not. He also offered tips on how to recognize bias when it flares up and how to fight against it.

“You have to go looking for it,” Kilmartin said. “Your brain is not the boss.”

With prejudice against women, he noted there often is an implicit bias towards the gender instead of the individual. A man who performs poorly may be seen as simply being bad at his job, he said, but a woman who does the same may be seen as an indication that “We shouldn’t hire women.”

When it comes to issues with women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the prejudice can be seen in a number of ways, Kilmartin said.

Some are mainly demeaning:

  • Being interrupted.
  • A woman’s idea is ignored but acknowledged when a man raises it and is attributed to him.
  • Being asked to clean up the lab more often.
  • Being asked to give a tour to a prospective student or make hotel reservations.

But there also are prejudices that can affect a woman’s ability to get ahead in a STEM-based career, he added.

  • Less access to internal funding and promotion.
  • Shorter and less praiseworthy letters of recommendation.
  • Less mentoring.
  • Lower chance of prospective student getting an email response.
  • Unconscious bias.

Women being offered the same opportunities as men is not “a zero-sum game,” Kilmartin said.

“Men don’t lose when women win.”


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.
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2 Comments » for Psychologist on campus to discuss issues of gender bias
  1. Caitlyn says:

    So, conversely we should also assume that “women don’t lose when men win”. Why must there always be ONE winner? Why can’t we all win. Are you assuming that men do not want women to succeed in STEM or other sciences.? This is identity politics in action. Always seeking to create the victim in society and pit one group against the other. Way to unify!

  2. Amanda says:

    Honestly, I don’t think that he was trying to do that at all. Reading the article I believe he was trying to make everyone aware of challenges that can be faced in life period. It is easy to say certain things when they don’t directly affective you. People judge others on many reasons such as race, gender, disability and much more. Also depending on your environment can also be a factor of how open minded you can be with others and what they may have to offer.

    For example, I was born as a military brat and over seas, in my opinion I have a better open mind to others and their back ground. I’m willing to listen and keep an open mind to others. This doesn’t mean that people of my same background have the same out look as I do, but the majority do. When you are from the South you have a different perspective of people and where they came from, some are open minded to it, but some are not. This doesn’t mean all people from the South have the same out look as most will have about people.

    This road can lead to many different path ways, but as people you have to decide really which one you are willing to take and take into consideration the reality of things of how they are. We can not always have the blinders on thinking that the world, the people around us and what we believe to be the right thing or how it should be will materialize as such.

    It is true that others will face more of challenges than others in life for what ever reasons that maybe, but what ever you can do as individual to not be part of the problem is always good. Being aware is even better, so you can be able to make good solid decision. Today you feel a certain way, tomorrow you may feel another way and years down the road your whole ideology will be totally different than what you have imaged based on your experience.

    You shouldn’t assume anything, you should only try to take a moment to understand a different perceptive and make a difference from there if you can.

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