Are there common differences between letters of recommendation written for men versus those written for women? One would think not. If the experiences are similar and the job is the same, why should the letters differ all that much?
Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, the Director of the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind at Columbia University, talked to Big Think about unintentional bias, and how it can play tricks on our minds when it comes to diversity. Letters of recommendation written for men typically use the word "brilliant" and "genius" whereas letters written for women use "team player" and even bring in information about women's personal lives. So even if someone is writing a letter to highly recommend a woman, unconscious bias can get in the way and actually hurt those we're trying to help.
Today's big idea examines diversity--why organizations need it and how to achieve it.