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
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.”