Smashing Bias Research Prize

Together with the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, LPFI supports the SMASHING BIAS RESEARCH PRIZE, an annual conference for action oriented research.

The "Identifying Hidden Bias and Removing Barriers in STEM Education and the IT Workplace" Conference will be held in early 2013 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hidden bias is conceptualized as a mechanism by which unequal outcomes and opportunities by race and gender occur, through both unconscious and implicit biases at the individual level and biases in the form of practices and policies that appear impartial but produce unequal outcomes.  A hidden bias framework provides a structure for analyzing how unconscious biases at the individual level and in the form of practices and policies at the organizational/structural level can: (a) unintentionally or unconsciously contribute to inequitable environments, and (b) negatively affect opportunities and outcomes for underrepresented groups. 


The purpose of the Smashing Bias Research Prize was to recognize outstanding and innovative hidden bias research that illuminates biases and seeks to ameliorate barriers faced by underrepresented populations in K-12 education, institutions of higher education, and the corporate workplace. 

In May 2011, the Level Playing Field Institute awarded five prizes and hosted a convening that accomplished four main goals:

(1)    Convene a diverse group of researchers and professors with expertise in hidden bias, and practitioners with interests in understanding how hidden bias research can improve engagement and outcomes in educational and workplace settings.

(2)    Present innovative hidden bias research findings from a select group of researchers to provide audience members with new insight into the impact of bias in both workplace and educational contexts.

(3)    Facilitate knowledge sharing and idea exchanges, in order to understand issues plaguing practitioners, develop research to address these issues, and ensure that research can be applied and translated into practical solutions for practitioners.

(4)    Develop objectives, criteria, and topics to inform the development of a Request for Proposals for the next Hidden Bias Research Prize, which will be focused squarely on identifying and funding the next era of action-oriented hidden bias research.


Lead Prizes
"Predicting Lawyer Effectiveness: A New Assessment for Use in Law School Admission Decisions." Marjorie Shultz and Sheldon Zedeck, University of California Berkeley

  • The nature of the LSAT test for admission (content and skewed nature of the results, disadvantaging underrepresented minority groups) creates a hidden bias in law school admissions, and is not necessarily predictive of anything beyond first year grades.

"STEMming the TIDE: Using Ingroup Experts to Inoculate Women's Self-Concept and Professional Goals in Science, Technology, Engineerins and Mathematics (STEM)" Jane Stout, Nilanjana Dasgupta, Matthew Hunsinger, Melissa McManus University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Same-sex experts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academic environments increases women’s STEM self-concepts, attitudes, and motivation to pursue STEM careers.

Honorable Mentions
"Gender, Race, and Meritocracy in Organizational Careers" Emilio Castilla, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Documents performance-reward bias, where women and minorities receive less compensation than white men with equal scores on performance evaluations.

"Latent Ability, Grades and Test Scores Systematically Underestimate the Intellectual Ability of Negatively Stereotyped Students" Greg Walton, Steven Spencer, Stanford University

  • In common academic environments, psychological threats depress the performance of people targeted by negative intellectual stereotypes.  Under conditions that remove psychological threat, stereotyped students perform better than non-stereotyped students at same level of past performance.

"Recursive Processes in Self-Affirmation: Intervening to Close the Minority Achievement Gap," Geoffrey Cohen, Julia Garcia, Valeria Purdie-Vaughns, Stanford University

  • Documents that racial differences in achievement can be affected by subtle psychological processes, rooted in identity and stereotypes, but that these differences can be somewhat mitigated through simple positively affirming interventions with students.

Dolly Chugh, Assistant Professor, Stern School of Business, New York University
Dawn Dow, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
Anula Jayasuriya, Life Science Venture Capitalist, LPFI Board Member
Freada Kapor Klein, LPFI Founder and Board Member
Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Reginald T. Shuford, Director of Law and Policy, Equal Justice Society
Nina Zolt, Founder, in2books
Robert Schwartz, Executive Director, Level Playing Field Institute
Cedric Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Mitchell Kapor Foundation