Welcome to the diversity issue! As we celebrate diversity and acknowledge the importance of promoting diversity in our profession and community, it is prudent to acknowledge our own diversity (or lack thereof as in my case of a Caucasian, non-Hispanic, straight female) and bias. As part of my preparation for writing this letter, I conducted research and took several Implicit Association Tests (IATs) from Harvard’s Project Implicit. You can take your own test(s) at: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html
The online tests for Project Implicit measure “attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.”1
I recommend taking the time to take two to three tests. Each test takes approximately 10 minutes or less. It’s an interesting and worthwhile experiment. When I started my first test, I questioned how it could predict any sort of bias, but by the time I completed that first test, I was impressed with how clever it was. The results surprised me. One test I took advised me that I have a strong automatic association for male with science and female with liberal arts. This was initially astonishing to me, as a woman who excelled in math. However, as I thought back to my time participating in math competitions, I recalled that I was typically vying against male opponents. Perhaps that led to an association.
My research also took me to the Kirwan Institute, which promotes “creating a just and inclusive society where all have the opportunity to succeed.” I participated in some of their implicit bias online training modules and was advised that I may have:
I found the “male privilege” to be interesting since I am female, have always been female and, also identify as female. Regardless, I am aware that I have been a recipient of privileges that not all receive. I appreciate that, but probably not enough. According to the Kirwan Institute:
The Kirwan Institute goes on to say that there has been extensive research which has identified the “effects of implicit racial biases in a variety of realms ranging from classrooms to courtrooms to hospitals.”3  Two specific examples cited by the Kirwan Institute include:
So, what do we do with this information as attorneys, judges, or other members of The Florida Bar?
Once we identify our implicit biases, we can then assess the appropriate counterbalance. If our implicit bias is counter-intuitive to our intelligent and rational view of the world, perhaps instead of just acknowledging it, we should fight against it and actually attempt to make decisions that promote the opposite of what our implicit bias would have us decide. As an example, tying back into my personal bias: perhaps I should encourage my daughter to explore science and my son to explore liberal arts.
Ultimately, what we do with the information is up to us. However, identifying our own implicit biases can help us right a potential wrong before it occurs. Knowledge is powerful and knowing the little tricks our minds are playing with us allows us to make more informed decisions in all areas of our lives.
Happy New Year! May 2021 bring you joy and the opportunity to grow as attorneys and humans.