Leanne Dzubinski, Biola University – Gender Bias

Measuring the invisible force of gender bias can be difficult.

Leanne Dzubinski, associate professor of intercultural education and study at Biola University, explores how to measure this phenomenon.

Leanne Dzubinski is Associate Professor of Intercultural Education in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University. She teaches doctoral courses on education, leadership, and research methods for students working in multicultural settings. She completed her PhD in Adult Education and HROD at the University of Georgia. Her publications include studies of adult learning, online learning, qualitative research, women in leadership, and women in Christianity.

Gender Bias

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An increasing body of research is demonstrating that gender biases are both real and costly to organizations and to women leaders.  The problem is, to date, researchers have not been able to determine just how harmful or costly these biases are due to difficulties in comprehensively measuring this phenomenon.  The few tools that do exist tend to measure overt gender bias like harassment, the respondent’s own biases, or the respondent’s beliefs about gender bias in society. No existing instrument offers a comprehensive perspective of women leaders’ experiences with or perceptions of organizational- and individual-level gender barriers in the workplace.  That is where our research comes in.

Using a sample of women in higher education, faith-based community organizations, healthcare, and law, my colleagues and I created and validated the Gender Bias Scale for women leaders.  This 47-item scale measures how women leaders experience 15 different aspects of gender bias like male culture, unequal standards, lack of mentoring, workplace harassment, and salary inequality, among others. With the scale, researchers and professionals now have a measurement tool that can be used in its entirety or in parts to assess specific gender barriers in different contexts, organizations, or sectors. 

Historically, one reason that efforts to understand gender bias have been hindered is the limited ability to evaluate the different aspects of such bias.  Now, our Gender Bias Scale accurately and reliably measures a full range of gender bias factors further allowing organizations to diagnose the amount and types of bias women perceive and experience. We sincerely hope that our scale will allow scholars to expand understanding of how gender bias is harmful to the health and well-being of women leaders and their organizations and, consequently, function as a catalyst for profound change.

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