Check your biases

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

Understanding race and diversity is a top priority in the Air Force, but Airmen may not know they are contributing to the problem and not the solution. 

Unconscious biases are prejudices about social groups that are formed in a person’s unconscious due to certain stereotype categories which can then lead to discriminatory interactions between social groups.

“We do things so fast in the military, we do not always think about how we come to reaching decisions involving people,” said Tech. Sgt. Amber Wheeler, 647th Air Base Group Equal Opportunity Office non-commissioned officer in charge. 

These biases can affect who performs what task, who is part of a unit, who goes up for promotions and awards, and even how Airmen perceive and treat each other.

“It can possibly affect anything that you have the authority to make a decision on or when you have to make a decision on people’s qualifications,” said Master Sgt. Melanie Aytch, 647th ABG Equal Opportunity office director.

Affinity bias, which is favoring certain people that are relatable and more comfortable to be around, is another form of unconscious bias. This can result in unfair treatment of those who do not fit into this preferred category of person.

It’s important to notice any sort of blinders, or things that prevent Airmen from recognizing racism, social injustice or systematic injustices.

When it comes to addressing any sort of unconscious biases that may be happening in the workplace, it is important to be able to have that conversation with the person who said or caused harm. If addressing someone directly is difficult, involve leadership or EO to help assist in the situation.

Airmen should take time and reflect on the decisions they make involving others throughout the day and understand why they made them.

By learning about and engaging with people and ideas that Airmen may not understand, they can become aware of any unconscious biases or blinders they may have and help the Airmen grow as people.

Airmen can also reach out to the EO office for help and training for their units on unconscious bias. Training can be tailored to specific unit sizes and schedule with an interactive course.

“It’s not an overnight process,” said Aytch. “You didn’t become who you were overnight, you grew to become that person. You have to grow to overcome biases.”

To learn more about unconscious bias and receive training, contact the EO office at 449-1701 or