The IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group and Women in STEM (WiSTEM) society hosted an event on Unconscious Bias in the Workplace on Monday the 27th of February 2017, from 5 pm. Annie Harper, our guest speaker, is passionate about improving the representation of women in STEM and she is using her skills to create a virtual reality simulation focusing on unconscious bias in the workplace. This purpose of this event was to provide a forum for participants and presenters to share their stories of working in the industry when you are part of a minority group so that these ideas can be used in Annie’s project.

We invited three past graduates to speak about their experiences in the workplace and there was also an opportunity to ask questions and for the audience to share their own experiences in the workplace. At the conclusion of the night, all guests had the opportunity to try out Devika’s virtual reality system while enjoying subway sandwiches in the company of like-minded people.

This event was successful in providing new insights into the issues of unconscious bias in the workplace. Some of the key insights include:

  • Gendered marketing seems to be a key reason for the lack of female representation in the workforce, as in the 80’s the number of female programmers was much higher and video games were designed for both genders, however, it was believed that to sell more games a specific gender should be targeted. So the simple fact that girls received a lack of exposure to technology and video games made girls not want to choose it as a degree as the topic is foreign and boyish.
  • Reasons for why the presenters choose their degrees were discussed
    • The most popular reason was a family member usually, Father did the degree or a similar profession.
    • Another reason was receiving strong encouragement to study a harder subject in high school such as Maths and Science, with teachers promoting healthy competition between students.
    • Co-ed team sports also helped to make girls realise they were just as capable as their male counterparts.

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You can find out more about our unconscious bias application at
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Thanks for having us and for helping raise awareness of issues facing women in STEM!

View a full video of the event