You Have Unconscious Bias. Now What?


Filmmaker Robin Hauser debuts a teaser for her next documentary

Robin Hauser Director & Producer Unleashed Productions, Inc.

Robin Hauser hit a nerve with the debut of Code, her first feature length documentary on the role of women in technology companies. The reaction to that film drove Hauser to dig into the deeper issues behind bias in our society, and is at the center of her next film, Bias, which is coming out next year. At NewCo Shift Forum, Hauser screened a teaser for the upcoming film, and spoke briefly about her work.

Robin Hauser: Unconscious bias is a huge subject that’s somewhat intangible, so I’ll let you know how I got to now. In 2015, I directed and produced a film, along with a great team of people, called “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap,” about the lack of women and people of color in tech. Initially I thought, “OK, this is a subject that’s going to speak to Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, maybe Silicon Swamp.”

Over the last 20 months, what’s happened with the film has been completely humbling. It’s gone to the White House. It’s part of the US Department of State’s Film Showcase, so we’ve gone to seven embassies, and I’m my way to Cambodia and Estonia. The film has screened in over 52 countries.

I thought, “This is crazy.” Some of the companies that are screening the film and hiring me — to come in and talk about what’s going on with the lack of diversity and the importance of diversity — they aren’t just tech companies. I’ve been to Microsoft, I’ve been to Google, I’m going to Yahoo on Thursday, but it’s companies like Heidrick & Struggles. It’s companies like — this is my personal favorite — Auto Trader UK.

I thought, “What is going on here? This is crazy.” It’s a very narrow subject, a very specific film, but what I learned is that we’ve touched upon a subject that people of color and women face across industries, not just in tech. The more I realized this, I thought, “Wait. There’s a bigger story here.” People are bringing me in to talk — as content for their unconscious bias training.

I thought, “Well, that’s cool. Let’s make a film about unconscious bias.” Yeah, how do you make a film about unconscious bias? Talk about experience and user experience! How do I get the audience to understand that, “Guess what? You have a brain? You’re biased.” It means I am, it means you are, we all are.

In many ways, that protects us. It’s there for a reason. In a lot of ways, it inhibits us. How does unconscious bias specifically affect the way that we hire, the way that we promote or pay equally, and the way that we fund?

My job then, as director, is to make a film that disarms the audience, that gets them to have an experience of understanding that they, too, are biased and have unconscious biases that they’re not aware of, obviously. You have the inability to actually recognize your own unconscious biases, just like you can’t do two math programs at once in your mind.

For more on Hauser’s next film, visit here.

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