Implementation of an unconscious bias course for the National Research Mentoring Network




Javier, Damaris
Solis, Linda Grace
Paul, Mirabelle Fernandes
Thompson, Erika L.
Maynard, Grace
Latif, Zainab
Stinson, Katie
Ahmed, Toufeeq
Vishwanatha, Jamboor K.


0000-0002-7115-0001 (Thompson, Erika L.)
0000-0002-0266-6020 (Vishwanatha, Jamboor K.)
0000-0002-4737-3985 (Javier, Damaris)

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BioMed Central Ltd.


Purpose: Increased awareness and mitigation of one's unconscious bias is a critical strategy in diversifying the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) disciplines and workforce. Greater management of unconscious bias can enhance diverse recruitment, persistence, retention, and engagement of trainees. The purpose of this study was to describe the implementation of an asynchronous course on unconscious bias for people in STEMM. Specifically, we explored who engaged with the course and reflections from participation. Method: A five-part, asynchronous Unconscious Bias Course was developed and was hosted on a national mentoring platform starting in July 2020. To examine course engagement, we assessed the demographics of course participants and completion. Participant responses to reflection questions after each module were also synthesized using qualitative methods. Results: Overall, 977 people registered for the course and 42% completed all modules. In the reflection responses, participants reflected on their unconscious biases in their lived experiences and how it relates to actions, judgements, external factors, stereotypes, and un-intentionality. Participants also reflected on microaggressions, their impact on the recipients and others, and the relationship between microaggressions and unconscious bias. Participants reported four key strategies used by allies against unconscious bias: immediately acting (83%), reflection (46%), improving the organizational culture (30%), and individual-level ally-ship (44%). Strategies for self-awareness included: reflection, pausing/breathing, and self-observation. Conclusion: The assessment of the Unconscious Bias Course implementation revealed the course reached a wide cross-section of people in STEMM and demonstrated that participants were able to reflect on the underpinnings of the course. This course, and its suite of offerings, support a nationwide effort to mitigate bias and prepare individuals to be culturally competent in a diverse society in order to foster a STEMM environment that caters to individuals' success and diversification of these fields.



Javier, D., Solis, L. G., Paul, M. F., Thompson, E. L., Maynard, G., Latif, Z., Stinson, K., Ahmed, T., & Vishwanatha, J. K. (2022). Implementation of an unconscious bias course for the National Research Mentoring Network. BMC medical education, 22(1), 391.


© The Author(s) 2022.


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)