Implicit Bias Conversation for Change Course

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Coaches need knowledge of how bias creates risks for their programs. Administration needs the same information to ensure that the response to complaints is consistent with the program, student welfare and university policy.

Without this information the complaints continue, female coaches are harmed, resources are wasted and coaching, as a profession, is undermined. There is a better way. Biases affect student athlete complaints in several specific ways and require specific remedies. There are socialization causes and gendered differences in both why and how female athletes may choose to report concerns compared to how male athletes may choose to report concerns. Men and women are socialized to report risk differently regardless of whether a coach has breached some standard of professional behavior. Females may report more regularly while males may resist reporting. This difference in reporting does not mean that females experience more harm or males experience less. It does, however, create differences in the number and presentation of complaints.

Because of this socialization and gendered difference in reporting for male and female athletes, administration may often have its own expectation regarding how, when or whether female or male athletes should bring concerns forward. This expectation can cause administration to listen more closely to complaints from one group and a less closely to complaints from the other.

These differences in athlete decisions on reporting and administration response affects all sports of both genders, but in different ways. It places a coach at risk from different numbers or types of complaints depending on gender of the sport and can create differential responses based on the gender of those athletes. Universities should seek to avoid these differential responses.

In addition to gendered socialization that creates differences in reporting of complaints and the expectation of complaints from male and female athletes, implicit bias can also separately affect the decision of an athlete of whether to complain about a coach and even how to verbalize the complaint. The gender of a coach can unfairly exacerbate or improperly discourage complaints from athletes. Complaints that may have little to do with whether a coach is performing poorly or engaging in behavior that might justify the complaint. Implicit bias can also affect the response of administration or investigators to the complaints or concerns of the athletes.

Each layer of these socialized, gendered and biased responses creates separate risks to the student, the coach and to the university. These risks cause substantial harm to many programs, coaches and universities. That risk can be managed, and the harm reduced. As these risks are partly the result of subconscious processes, a tiered, or stepped approach to education is normally best.

Carlette has 30+ years of senior leadership in professional and collegiate sports organizations with comprehensive experience in business, sports leadership, transition, and wellbeing. She is an internationally recognized Sports Life Coach, a professional speaker, and the CEO of Patterson Sports Ventures.

Carlette is committed to equipping people to win in their lives in three dimensions (3D) - Personally, Professionally, and Philanthropically. Three-Dimensional Coaching and Training creates high-performance results because it is driven by meaningful relationships, underpinned by character, and anchored in purpose.

The desired outcome of Carlette’s work in 3D Coaching and Training is to achieve balance between personal wellbeing in our lives, professional legacy in our work, and philanthropical influence in our world.

3D Coaching and Training is the foundation for all of Carlette’s work, which have been implemented in the US, New Zealand, and Australia, for thousands of professional and collegiate athletes, coaches, teams, corporations, and executives.

Tom Newkirk attended Drake University and graduated from Drake Law School in 1989. He is presently the founding partner in Newkirk Zwagerman and has been a civil rights attorney practicing in Iowa for more than 30 years representing hundreds of persons of color and women harmed by discrimination.

During the last 20 years, Tom has devoted significant time to educating himself on implicit bias and developing methods to reduce bias as a risk in employment, the legal and medical professions, and in civil and criminal justice. He uses that knowledge to educate coaches and universities on how implicit bias (gender and race) affects decisions and decision-making processes. He also educates on the impact of socialization and implicit bias on student athlete complaints and the response to such complaints.

Tom’s work encourages organizations to apply science-based advances as they develop policies to reduce the harm created by gender and racial biases in the workplace. Tom specializes in removing mental barriers like defensiveness, polarization and cultural disconnection that often prevent us from taking the first important step forward to address our continued racial and gender divisions. As a result of his approach, Tom has been invited by employers, school districts, universities and organizations like the NAACP to educate on implicit bias and has presented more than 70 times in the last four years while maintaining his client work as a civil rights attorney.

Tom has always worked to strongly advocate for women and persons of color with a clear understanding of the need to break through - without relying on guilt, blame or shame - the strongly held, but often unintended resistance to making progress. Tom’s methods of advocating for responsibility - not blame, for prevention - not polarization, has been welcomed by persons of all genders and all races. His work has garnered accolades and recognition, including:

  • Spirit of Martin Luther King Award- 2012, in recognition of dedication and outstanding service to the spirit of MLK
  • Special Presidential Recognition Award- 2014, in recognition of dedication and outstanding service for the cause of social justice
  • Diversity Champion Award-2018, in recognition of work on the education of medical students on implicit bias affecting medical care

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