Cover Image: The End of Bias

The End of Bias

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Member Reviews

The main interest in the book is in the detailed case histories of organisations which have reduced bias. In all cases, and Nordell is careful to point this out, it comes down to a mixture of personal work and cultural/organisational work - so the power of diversity is only unleashed in a 'learning' environment where people see the differences between themselves but opt to learn from those differences, and for that to happen, the culture needs to make that possible. There's also reference to systematic cultural change needed throughout society, and that's perhaps the hardest to achieve. 

Full review on my blog
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Bias is a interesting subject. While some people try to remove bias from their lives, which is the main topic of Jessica Nordell's End of Bias, others are embracing it. Fox News, social media, etc, polarise society by reinforcing bias and prejudice. So while it's great that many of the case studies in the book are taking positive action, it seems society as a whole unfortunately is moving in the opposite direction.

I disagreed with some sections, such as the use of IAT tests to predict prejudice. Having done a test, it's pretty obvious you can get whatever result you want by the ordering of the questions. I felt the book focused too heavily on racial bias, but I suspect the volume of research and the active projects tackling it help to demonstrate biased behaviours. The end sections were interesting, with suggestions of living an examined life to remove your own biases. 

The book is certainly worth a read - well researched and clearly written - highly recommended.
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Anyone who is not an able, white man understands bias in that they may no longer even recognise the extent to which they suffer from it: it's simply a part of everyday life. White men will always come first. The able will come before the disabled. Jobs, promotions, higher salaries are the preserve of the white man. Even when those who wouldn't pass the medical become a part of an organisation it's rare that their views are heard, that their concerns are acknowledged. It's personally appalling and degrading for the individuals on the receiving end of the bias but it's not just the individuals who are negatively impacted.

If talent - in all its forms - is not being utilised there's an impact on the success of companies and on culture, on life in general - we are wasting a valuable asset. You might argue that there are laws to prevent discrimination but laws create a floor: people determine the ceiling. Laws simply limit how bad discrimination can be. Most worryingly of all, some of the bias actually comes from the people who suffer bias. It's unconscious - say in the difference between how a teacher might comfort a young girl or boy or which gender they might suggest should behave a little more quietly. We might suggest that a girl's clothing is pretty - but we'd never say that to a boy. Not quite so unconscious are the punishments meted out to black students which wouldn't be given to their white counterparts for the same infractions. Women are considered aggressive, whereas their male counterparts are forceful or determined.

Jessica Nordell opens the book by telling us about Ben Barres. Now, Ben had been born Barbara Barres and had transitioned recently but was worried by how he would be accepted at a conference where he was presenting some of his work. He needn't have worried. On the day, he felt he had more authority, that what he said was accepted more readily. Finally, he overheard someone say that his work was better than his sister's.

The book primarily deals with the effect of bias on the black man and the white woman. I was left sickened by the thought of what the black woman must suffer. A little disappointingly, it considers the effects of disadvantage but not the consequences of unearned advantage. It is also based on populations in the USA and occasionally this meant that it was difficult for someone resident outside the US to relate to the precise circumstances. The UK doesn't have such a high proportion of Hispanic residents - but bias is bias, where ever you find it and this is an excellent starting point to correct the situation. Any criticisms I make are very minor and possibly quite picky. It's a stunning book and a surprisingly easy read for such a major subject and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

You'll find yourself shelving this book next to We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba.
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This is a definite must-read. In The End of Bias, Jessica Nordell examines the roots of many of our conscious and unconscious biases, and shows us that changing them, that lowering prejudice towards the other, is possible. The book is very well researched and covers many studies/interventions (mostly successful) to reduce prejudice.

As with other books I've read on this topic, at a given point I was despairing because the message I got was "this has to come from management and we're doomed otherwise to change workplace culture". However, in Nordell's book, there's a chapter about interventions in which the general population is targeted. If we lower general prejudice, then as a collective we can be better in the workplace, and be better allies. We might not be able to change the way hiring practices are done, for example, but we can contribute to making those in the minority (in my case, women in STEM) feel appreciated and heard, and not just perceived as tokens (by themselves---ourselves---and others).

I really recommend this book. I highlighted many parts of it and I am planning to follow up on quite a few of the studies mentioned.

This review is based on an ARC of this book. Many thanks to NetGalley and Granta Publications for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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I have read quite a few about the climate crisis, feminism, and anti-racism.
The End of Bias: A Beginning by Jessica Nordell is a must read. It took me a while to read it, but, I learnt sooooo much. I expected the book to teach me a few things about discrimination. It actually covered so many areas! 

Here are some examples in a completely random order:

- The case study of a pre-school in Sweden was fascinating. As an educator, it made me so aware of how often I used gendered terms to address groups (ladies/boys/girls) We'd never address just one child, or 2 children like that (Hello boy/girl, bye boy and girl) but it is a common greeting in primary schools (hello boys and girls) Teachers also have a lower tolerance threshold for certain behaviour depending the gender of the child - as they noticed when they filmed classrooms. The book described concrete measures and the subsequent changes in the well-being of children! 

- Police officers' "tunnel vision" and the dire consequences for certain communities in the US. The difference between "warrior training" vs compassionate methods such as mindfulness and community outreach was stark. How do we fight dehumanisation of Black and Latino people? 

- How do CEOs view their teams and hire employees, and how effective is diversity training? This part reminded me of conversations I've had with friends who worked in recruitment in London,who were told to focus on finding people with "easy names", attractive and young. 

I could talk about this book for hours! Get it, you won't regret it.

Thank you NetGalley and Granta Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a copy of the book by NetGalley but the opinions in this review are my own.

I thought that The End of Bias was well researched and written to grab the attention. It’s definitely a thought provoking read as I was thinking well after finishing it about the ways in which I myself am biased.
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This has been a fascinating read for me! As someone who is aware of their unconscious bias, I wasn't sure how much I would learn from this book, but whoa, I learnt a lot! I thought it was well written and very well presented - I liked the references to research and other learnings, as it helps me understand where the author got their facts. It's a very interesting read and made me open my eyes about to how I view my bias, and how the rest of the world likely views them as well. I think this is the kind of book that should be recommended to teenagers in school to read.
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Do you challenge your thinking? ‘The End of Bias: How We Change Our Minds’ by Jessica Nordell has a fascinating introduction illustrating gender bias and admits that in the course of researching and writing the book she saw things in herself she had not seen before.

The book is extremely well researched and the author believes that we can overcome our unconscious bias and has seen evidence of change, even in herself. Nordell acknowledges that this won’t end social inequality, but emphasises the role of the authentic inner, individual change..

She asks us to notice our own biased reactions, to be aware and to connect more with people unlike ourselves. Building structure in institutions to reduce bias in everyday practice will work towards if not eliminating, al least making others aware of our everyday biases.
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As a white female I have the opportunity to be biased and to be on the receiving end of bias. I did not believe I had experienced either...until I read this book. It is not an easy read but it is an eye opening, essential read.

For me this was not a page turner that I couldn't put down, the chapters are long and information dense. This is a book that takes commitment. But it is worth it. The message is clear: bias is still everywhere an inescapable fog that mussies even the seemingly cleanest of minds.

Something needs to change and this book may help.
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The End of Bias was undoubtedly very well written and very thoroughly researched, however sadly it wasn't the book for me and I was unable to finish it. I usually enjoy non-fiction reads, but I did find this book difficult to get into. I think for me this was because the style of writing felt quite formal and academic, although I can appreciate that Nordell tried to include some anecdotes to make the book more accessible. Essentially, The End of Bias was a little too academically written for me to find it an enjoyable read, but I would nonetheless recommend the book to anyone who wants to read a thorough study of bias in today's world.
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A very dry read, but a fascinating insight into bias and how it impacts on everything

Do you think you really understand what bias is?  I thought I did, but I now know I didn’t realise the depth and complexity of it and how it impacts on every part of our lives.

The author looks into different areas of research and real-life examples of how some small assumptions or decisions are made on bias, a lot of which is institutional or cultural, and how this can have consequences on people’s lives and happiness and the success of services and business.  It made me consider my own job and how unconscious bias plays a large part in senior management policies.

A must have read, especially for leaders (whether business or community).
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I have to confess that at first I did struggle with this book, mainly because I felt a little like there was unconscious bias towards females simply because the author is female. As it progressed however, I found that a lot of the sweeping statements were backed up well with research and evidence and the author offered critical thinking to what she was writing. I will be referencing some of this within my work going forward.
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The End of Bias is a fascinating, comprehensive look at the way in which unconscious bias impacts our thought processes and pervades every aspect of human life in relation to several variables including race, religion, disability and gender identity, to name a few. But it is also a transformative, groundbreaking exploration into how we can eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination, the great challenge of our age. The anecdotal, statistical and empirical evidence throughout these pages is staggering, and I found myself gobsmacked in some instances by what I learned. For example, as a freelance journalist just starting out, Jessica Nordell had sent editors a lot of pitches but had a hard time getting them accepted. She then began pitching under a gender-neutral name, "J.D. Nordell" — and immediately had more success despite it being the only variable that changed. The experience set her on a path of researching and writing about unconscious bias for more than a decade and eventually publishing this book. But we also see bias in education where black students are penalised more for the same infractions. We see it in the workplace where women and women of colour, in particular, are often passed over for desirable assignments. 

We see it in policing where black men are more likely to be on the receiving end of force, even when completely compliant with an officer's orders and even when no arrests are made. Implicit or unconscious bias (or it can also be termed unexamined and/or unintended bias) is persistent, unintentional prejudiced behaviour that clashes with our consciously held beliefs, and that is the primary focus of this book. We know that it exists to corrosive and even lethal effect. We see it in medicine, we see it in finance, as well as the workplace, education and beyond, and as we know from the police killings of so many Black Americans, bias can be deadly. But are we able to step beyond recognition of our prejudice to actually change it? Nordell posits that we are but that we still have far to go in our pursuit of uprooting our prejudices. With nuance, compassion and fifteen years' immersion in the topic, Nordell digs deep into the cognitive science, social psychology and developmental research that underpin current efforts to eradicate unintentional bias and discrimination and weaves gripping stories with up to the minute scientific research to reveal exactly how minds, hearts and behaviours change. 

She scrutinises diversity training, deployed across the land as a corrective but with inconsistent results. She explores what works and why: the diagnostic checklist used by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital that eliminated disparate treatment of men and women in disease prevention; the preschool in Sweden where teachers found ingenious ways to uproot gender stereotyping: the police unit in Oregon where the practice of mindfulness and specialised training has coincided with a startling drop in the use of force. The End of Bias: A Beginning brings good news: Biased behaviour can change; the approaches outlined here can help transform ourselves and our world. Captivating, fascinating and direct, this is a timely and impeccably researched book that sets itself apart from the rest by not only exploring implicit bias but explaining how we can attempt to use the best evidence-based approaches to conquer it, too. It is filled with facts, statistics, anecdotes and empirical research illustrating just how ubiquitous the problem really is. For anyone interested in a topic that affects every single one of us regardless of who we are, this is a must-read, and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.
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An excellent, informative, well-researched read. Jessica Nordell picks apart 'bias' revealing all the difficulties in understanding, identifying and addressing the prevalence of it in today's society. It's jam-packed with insight be that from theory, interviews or case studies that there's almost too much to get your head around. Jessica doesn't shy away from exploring and addressing her own assumptions/failings which I particularly admired and while reading, this approach encouraged me to do the same. I know I will be re-reading, recommending and referring to this in the future. A triumph.
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This book presents an analysis on how implicit bias works in us humans and how we can fight it. The author presents various methods that try to fight this unconscious bias and shows their effects on the organizations that these methods took place. I liked the book because it was really well researched and it's an eye opening book because sometimes we may not even perceive how we are affected by the implicit bias.

Thank you NetGalley for an ARC in exchange of an honest review.
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The End of Bias was undoubtedly very well written and very thoroughly researched, however sadly it wasn't the book for me and I was unable to finish it. I usually enjoy non-fiction reads, but I did find this book difficult to get into. I think for me this was because the style of writing felt quite formal and academic, although I can appreciate that Nordell tried to include some anecdotes to make the book more accessible. Essentially, The End of Bias was a little too academically written for me to find it an enjoyable read, but I would nonetheless recommend the book to anyone who wants to read a thorough study of bias in today's world.
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In-depth examination of what is termed 'implicit bias' which is absorbed from the world around us from a young age, & leads us to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, body type, etc. It's not innate though, & even unconscious bias can be dismantled.

This is a huge topic & I think the author did a good job of tackling the subject. With lots of examples of how unconscious bias works & how we can work towards removing it, it's an interesting read but at times it can be heavy going. As a woman, it is disheartening to read about how women suffer worse outcomes after hospital treatment, & still struggle to reap the same rewards as men in many work fields. Can we ever get to a point where implicit bias is no longer a factor?  I really don't know to be honest but reading this book is a good start. 

Thanks to NetGalley & publishers, Granta Publications, for the opportunity to read an ARC.
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The messages contained in this book are so important and it’s clear that the author has done a ton of research but it’s lost in translation  by how the  information is presented to the reader. It’s incredibly dense. I feel like it would engage the reader  better if it were formatted in a different way. - perhaps if the author had highlighted the most common implicit biases - race, gender, sexuality etc and focused on them a chapter at a time as well as the psychology of the bias and our implicit decision making. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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I enjoyed reading this book and feel that I learned a lot from it. However, It was an incredibly dense read and took me a long time to get through it! It was full of facts (which was great) but it did mean that it wasn't the sort of book you could devour in a day. This is one to read over a few weeks (or months in my case) to get the full picture from it. I did feel that it had some similarities to other books that I have read on a similar subject. However, overall this was an excellent and enlightening read.
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I'm almost afraid to say why I've only given this 3 stars, but it was far too focused on American studies/ incidents for my liking. I know. The irony is not lost on me. It almost sounds like I want to live somewhere that is biased. The thing is I do. Britain is biased. Everywhere is. But there's hardly any mention of it as a global thing. It's uncomfortably but refreshingly honest and has made me look at myself and how biased I am. I naively found no magic wands, hints maybe, but no cures apart from personal humility, humanity and do as you would be done by with a side order of learn about the people of the world we share.
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