U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
Dr. Carrie Baker, diversity and inclusion officer at Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, was formally recognized Oct. 12, 2019 at an Air Force Academy football game for her efforts in helping the Academy kick-off its first unconscious bias training curriculum.
Not only was Baker a part of the initial cadre of volunteers to deliver the training, she also used her leadership and expertise to share best practices concerning diversity and inclusion.
USAFA rolled-out the unconscious bias training for the former first-class cadets, who graduated spring 2019. The goal of the training is to enhance cadet leadership competencies, through skill building and increased awareness, in preparation for their transition to active duty.
What is Unconscious Bias?
Imagine you are rushing through a terminal to catch a flight and you’re running late. As you hurry to make your way toward your seat, you are greeted by the captain who happens to stand by the entryway. Upon landing at your destination, you find yourself at a local restaurant and partake in the best meal you’ve ever had. Next to you, you notice a couple is celebrating their anniversary. In the morning, you find yourself at the world’s largest technology conference and on stage is the CEO of the most disruptive, innovative startup company of the year.
Did you visualize the captain as a woman? Did you identify the couple as two males? Was the company’s CEO an individual with disabilities? If your answers are a resounding ‘no’ then you, along with a majority of people, are experiencing unconscious bias. This is an example of how your brain associates patterns of what we recognize as familiar and normal.
The training objectives provided steps toward identifying biases. It’s important to acknowledge that bias is normal, and with awareness we all have the ability to mitigate its impact.
To accomplish the training, Ms. Yvonne Roland, chief diversity and inclusion officer at USAFA, solicited volunteers. Baker stepped in to assist with the program without hesitation. The training occurred over multiple months, from fall 2018 to winter 2019.
“Dr. Baker was asked to partake in the Academy’s training because she is highly respected and because of her expertise,” Roland said. “It was important to partner with our colleague at HQ AFSPC to convey the message of diversity and inclusion being a military necessity. Because Dr. Baker is a dedicated professional and realized the need and impact of this training can have on future leaders, she did not hesitate to be a part of this important endeavor.”
“I believe this USAFA initiative was a transformative step in developing our future leaders, and knew it was important to be a part of,” said Baker.
Baker continued, “As we embrace our destiny of the future we have a responsibility to prepare our leaders to be successful; John Maxwell said, ‘We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.’”