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John, Jane, Yasser, Yasmin

How implicit biases influence our perception of others
Jennifer Saul

Jane or Yasmin, the name at the top of a curriculum vitae makes a huge difference as to how it is assessed. What are the key unconscious biases that psychology has uncovered and what are their implications?

In study after study, psychologists have shown that the very same résumé receives different ratings depending on the perceived gender and ethnic origin of the name at the top of it. This is just one example of the way that unconscious biases significantly influence how we judge and perceive others, and thus may impair the progress of those from whatever groups are stigmatized in a particular society. Unfortunately, this is not yet as widely known outside psychology as it needs to be, and its ethical, political and practical implications are not yet well understood. Professor of philosophy Jennifer Saul will explain some of the key unconscious biases that psychology has uncovered and explore their implications. The focus will be on women in professional contexts, but many of the issues generalize to other situations and other stigmatized groups as well.

Jennifer Saul is professor of philosophy and head of department at the philosophy department of the University of Sheffield (UK). She works predominantly in philosophy of language and feminist philosophy. Her book Lying, Misleading and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. She is the director of the project ‘Implicit biases and philosophy’, and has been the recipient of the Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award in 2011.

Aspasia Lecture
This is the first edition of the annual Aspasia Lecture; an initiative to celebrate and promote the position of women in philosophy and academia more generally in the context of the NWO Aspasia program, which specifically aims at increasing the representation of women in the higher ranks of academia.

Who was Aspasia?
Aspasia was a Greek philosopher who lived from 470 to 410 BC. She was born in Miletus, and moved to Athens as a young woman, where she played a prominent role in the public and intellectual life of the city as one of the most prominent hetairai of her time (hetairai were highly educated free women who actively engaged in intellectual debates and public life -- the only women to have such a position at the time). According to some sources (Plato, Plutarch), she taught rhetoric, and Socrates may have been one of her students.

Interesting links
University of Sheffield: Jennifer Saul profile
New APPS Blog: Article about Jennifer Saul
New APPS Blog: Implicit biases

Organized by Faculty of Philosophy in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen and the Groningen Centre for Philosophy and Society

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