"We divide bias avoidance behaviors into productive types that improve work performance
and unproductive types that are inefficient," said Dr. Drago. "Our study of university
faculty indicates that both types of bias avoidance are relatively common, with women
more often reporting both types."
According to Robert Drago, productive bias avoidance includes behaviors that minimize actual family commitments to
improve work performance and facilitate career success. He argues that productive behaviors improve
career chances because they increase the time and energy available for the job. For example, in the
case of university faculty, they may choose to delay partnering or marriage, limit
the number of children raised or delay child rearing, until they attain tenure.
Unproductive bias avoidance behaviors, on the other hand,
may give the appearance of being committed to the job, but they are ineffective
or hinder job performance. Unproductive behaviors include:
Drago finds unproductive bias avoidance behaviors particularly puzzling in
the academic world where tenure qualifications are measured by scholarship, teaching
In comparison, English generally has:
- a slower pace for publication
- little available
- minimal competition, and
- mostly solitary work
They surveyed 4,188 participants from 507 institutions, ranging from
2-year associate degree granting colleges to major research institutions.
"Foremost, the survey provided empirical support for the existence of
productive and unproductive bias avoidance behaviors," Drago told attendees at the
2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
in St. Louis, Mo. "Employees do strategize to avoid career penalties by minimizing or
hiding caregiving commitments."
They also found that women more often engaged in both productive and unproductive
bias avoidance behavior.
"We found that locations with supportive supervisors reported reduced
rates and probably had a reduction in bias avoidance behaviors," said Drago.
"Institutions with gender equality seem to report lower levels of bias avoidance for
"Women-friendly institutions also tend to be family-friendly for women,"
Bias avoidance strategies
probably exist for other employees.
"Because bias avoidance and gender appear to be linked, successful
attempts to achieve gender equity at colleges and universities will probably require
reductions in the incidence of both productive and unproductive avoidance behaviors,"
said Dr. Drago.
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