Do you know what an implicit bias is? An implicit bias is a judgement you, yes you, hold against other people without even thinking about or knowing it. People ruthlessly judge each other all the time with these implicit biases. It comes quite naturally to human beings, sadly.

Implicit Biases: Identifying the Gravity of the Situation

If you don’t believe me that we all do this every single day, listen to the wise words of Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, professors at Harvard University and the University of Washington, respectively.

Elizabeth R. Thornton of Psychology Today reveals the staggering realities of these implicit biases, quoting Banaji and Greenwald:

“An ongoing study of implicit bias—using the Implicit Association Test (IAT)—is being conducted… Data from the first 4.5 million tests revealed that: ‘Implicit biases are pervasive. For example, 80% of respondents show implicit negativity toward the elderly compared to the young; 75-80% of self-identified whites and Asians show an implicit preference for racial white over black.’”

This information is incredibly unsettling.

They go on to say, “‘Implicit biases predict behavior. From simple acts of friendliness and inclusion to more consequential acts, such as the evaluation of work quality.’”

Cheryl Conner of Forbes drives home Banaji’s and Greenwald’s points. “According to some studies, dress doesn’t influence higher income for women as much as it helps to ensure security in their current roles. Forbes writer Laura Sinberg warns that dressing ‘too sexy’ can make a woman seem less competent.”

You heard it themselves.

Why Are You Telling Me All of This? This is Depressing…

People judge your work with these biases every day. So, I say, let’s make lemonade out of these mean lemons. I’m sure at some point or another, you have been robbed of a pay increase because of these biases.

You can have different approaches to this impossible situation, which may or may not result in a pay raise, but here are some of the main responses people can have:

1) Positive Manipulation: You might think, “I’ll use people’s biases against them to get what I want–a higher pay rate.” If that is the case, you’ll want to follow these nine guidelines for women, in particular:

  • Show clothes, not skin,
  • Wear fitting shoes that cover your feet,
  • Wear clean clothes,
  • Iron your clothes,
  • Wear fitting clothing, not too loose, not too tight,
  • Wear a step above the dress code,
  • Wear modest jewelry and makeup,
  • Cover your legs if you’re not wearing a skirt, and
  • Dress modestly.

2) Pessimism: Your thoughts might be, “The status quo will never change. People are hopeless. I must succumb, or I’ll be trampled over.”

3) Optimism: Your thoughts might be, “I’ll make the best of this situation, choosing to do and not do what I personally feel comfortable with and have compassion for people with these culturally and socially ingrained biases.

4) Activism: Your thoughts might be, “I understand what these implicit biases do, and I am going to be a driving force in seeing them change!”

Erica Hill, Keller Williams: Women & Presentation: How Your Looks Affect Your Pay

So, what will your response be? Tweet me your choice with hashtags: #PositiveManipulation, #pessimism, #optimism, #activism, or #twist for the ultimate twist (share a different reaction you thought of!)!