Diversity, bias, gender, and race in ADR: a hard fight to level the playing field

Blind justiceAs I was getting ready for the start of the mediation training I was teaching, one of the participants, just arrived, approached me to tell me to get him a cup of coffee. Despite my power suit and the flip chart markers in my hand, he had mistaken the lead trainer for a member of the support staff.

If you think that this is an isolated incident in the life of an ADR professional who happens to be a woman, think again. Challenge yourself by reading commercial mediator Victoria Pynchon’s gutsy series on gender, race, and diversity in the ADR profession:

Negotiating Prejudice at U.C. San Diego

Negotiating Gender: Why So Few Women Neutrals?

Update on Gender Diversity in the Judiciary and in ADR

Then do as Vickie suggests and take the awareness-raising tests at Project Implicit, an ongoing research project inquiring into the implicit biases that affect our judgment. What associations do you draw about identity, capability, and role?

2 responses to “Diversity, bias, gender, and race in ADR: a hard fight to level the playing field

  1. Hi Diane,
    First thought – your participant asking you for coffee is a jerk!

    Second… I’m involved in a court mediation program in British Columbia. Recent studies of mediator effectiveness shows a connection between gender and settlement rate – male mediators tending to have higher settlement rate. So what else does that tell us? Beyond gender stereotypes (e.g., men more focused on result vs. process), I’m wondering…what does it mean for the way mediation services are taught, delivered, evaluated, promoted…?

    • Diane Levin

      Thanks, Ben – that was my private opinion as well. Interesting – I’ve heard of at least one study that accords with what you report. This certainly merits further research – and raises serious questions.