For better or for worse, studying and working with philosophy does seem often to encourage introspection. Our discourse – at least for many of us – has lots and lots of references to our intuitions. And yet that leaves us with whole groups of philosophers who say things such as “I only care about quality, not race or gender,” and whose behavior puts such statements in question. E.g., they present themselves as simply interested in the quality of the work graduate students produce, but at the same time, they don’t give the time and attention to the work done by women students. Or they wouldn’t begin to consider hiring an African American, because they don’t want to participate in a practice that supposedly grossly inflates black salaries, etc, etc. As if they knew much about black salaries.
How in the world does one of the very most introspective of disciplines end up with such self-deceivers?
There’s a somewhat new answer that’s recorded in a New Yorker blog. Not maybe the most academic source, but the research is. Here’s the answer: bias is not revealed by introspection. People whose knowledge of themselves is more due to introspection than reflection on their behavior are more apt to be ignorant of their biases.
So for starters we need to make biased behavior in the community much more visible and noticeable. And there’s been some progress on that.
Another thing one notices is that, generally speaking, you can get away with a lot of discriminatory behavior in academia without getting called out on it. Further, some kinds of censoring just drives the behavior in deeper. We need a combination of supportive, informative behavior and rewards. And there are people working on just this.