Biases in science and education
Equal opportunities instead of equality
Educational research from the 1970s to the present day shows that efforts to create "formal equality of opportunity" have led to more educational opportunities and increased participation in education, but not to the reduction of social inequalities. These often begin in childhood and lay the foundation for later careers. Therefore, it seems necessary to talk about equity rather than equality of opportunity.
The concept of equal opportunities comes from the education policy sector and refers to the demand for equitable access to social goods, social and professional opportunities and social positions. In concrete terms, this means constant and sustainable reinforcement of contemporary working, research, teaching and learning conditions, predictable and reliable career prospects, and need-based services for all faculty members.
This includes raising awareness of biases, the use of stereotypes and biases. Perceptions of such value processes, which often occur unconsciously, are significant not only within appointment committees and evaluation processes. Also within everyday teaching, learning and research, awareness of unconscious bias is crucial for equity and fairness.
Closely interwoven with this term is the term educational fairness. It refers to the right of all members of a society to equal educational opportunities, regardless of individual factors and prerequisites, such as gender role, nationality, age, sexual orientation and identity, physical and mental abilities, or religion.
The decision for or against higher education depends not only on the social and cultural embedding of the parental home or the personal family environment. Questions about migration background, language barriers, income or health situation are further factors. The influence of such disadvantaging elements continues in further academic careers, in some cases even up to the achievement of a professorship.
In order to create a positive environment for diversity and equal opportunities in science, individuals whose social background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, worldview, or nationality differs from that of the dominant group in science must be included to a greater extent. HHU's buddy- and mentoring programs support this aim.