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Unconscious stereotypes revealed at Libra lecture

Professor Havi Carel The Wellcome Trust

Professor Richard Pettigrew

Press release issued: 1 December 2014

Two University of Bristol academics will discuss how stereotyping really works, whether we always know when we are being prejudiced and how we can become more aware of our subconscious biases at the annual Libra Lecture this Thursday 4 December.

Although overt discrimination is both unacceptable and illegal in the UK, women and certain minority groups are still under-represented at all levels of academia – from undergraduate student populations, to researchers and the highest levels of salaried staff.

During this year’s Libra Lecture at the University of Bristol, Professor Havi Carel and Professor Richard Pettigrew, both of the Department of Philosophy, will question whether subtle mechanisms such as implicit bias and stereotype threat could be influencing such trends and, if they are, how we might reduce their effects.

Implicit bias is a mental attitude that we unconsciously hold. Unlike the prejudices or preferences that we are aware of, implicit bias functions subconsciously and can often work against our conscious views.

Stereotype threat refers to a situation where a person feels as though they are in danger of conforming to negative stereotypes about a social group that they belong to.

Both academics will draw on their experiences in the Department of Philosophy, which has taken practical steps to promote a climate that is welcoming to all, friendly and inclusive.

Professor Havi said: "In the lecture we suggest that there are simple measures we can take to become aware of implicit bias and stereotype threat and try to minimise their effects. We hope this will lead to a productive and positive discussion of these issues and to others adopting these measures."

The Libra Lecture series is in its second year. The lectures focuses on gender related topics and feature leading female academic and non-academic speakers.

‘How to Combat Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat in Academia’ will take place on 4 December in the Wills Memorial Building at 12.15pm.

It is free to attend, but booking is required. Please email

If you have any support needs then please contact the equality and diversity team at the earliest opportunity.

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