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Unconscious bias

02 December 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 12


Your background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context can have an impact on your midwifery practice, says Paulina Sporek.

I recently attended a very interesting lecture about unconscious bias, presented by our programme leader Georgina Sims. It made me realise that we often make instinctive decisions about other people that are not really based on facts, but are instead influenced by hidden thoughts and feelings we're not even aware of. Every time we interact with women and their families in our care, we make rapid judgements about them without having time to process in detail everything about the individual and context. This unconscious process may have an impact on the quality of care we provide. Therefore, I felt we should explore this further.

The Equality Challenge Unit (2013: 3) defines unconscious bias as

‘a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgements and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.’

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