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Bias, an automatic—usually unconscious and unintentional—inclination, preference, or favoring of an individual or group over another, is an inherent aspect of an individual’s academic leadership and decision-making processes. Bias alone is not a detriment to building an inclusive and supportive environment for faculty. However, oftentimes an academic unit leader’s biases result in the justification, rationalization, and facilitation of exclusionary processes and practices toward faculty, particularly those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. This article discusses the impact of bias, specifically implicit bias, on academic leadership. Moreover, the impact of a leader’s biases toward diversity attributes (e.g., gender, sexual orientation/affinity, age, ethnicity, race) of faculty are highlighted. Specifically, key areas of academic leadership are explored: faculty recruitment (hiring), retention (evaluation), and advancement (promotion and tenure). Recommendations, promising practices, and strategies for minimizing the impact of implicit bias are provided.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.