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Pragya Agarwal with Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias — HBE ENGAGE EVENT

October 7, 2020

Pragya Agarwal is a behavioral and data scientist. After her PhD from University of Nottingham, she was a senior academic in US and UK Universities for over 12 years and held the prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship. She is also the founder of a research think-tank The 50 Percent Project examining societal inequalities, and a freelance writer for Guardian, Prospect, Forbes, Huffington Post, BBC Science Focus and New Scientist among others. She is a two-time TEDx speaker and has given keynotes and talks for schools, universities and charities and worked as a consultant with global corporate, governmental and research organizations. Pragya has appeared on many international podcasts and shows including NPR, BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 ‘The Spark’, BBC Asian Network, Cosmic Shambles, Intelligence Squared and the Royal Institution. She has organized a TEDxWoman event, and an online South Asian Literary Festival, and has a podcast called ‘Outside the Boxes’. Pragya was named as one of top 100 leading women social entrepreneurs in the UK, and awarded the Diverse Wisdom award by Hay House Publishing.

About Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias

Uncovers the science behind our “unintentional” biases using real world stories underpinned by scientific theories and research.

Experiments have shown that our brains categorize people by race in less than one-tenth of a second, about 50 milliseconds before determining sex. This means that we are labeling people by race and associating certain characteristics to them without even hearing them speak or getting to know them. This subtle cognitive process starts in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with strong emotions.

Does this mean that unconscious biases are hardwired into our brains as an evolutionary response, or do they emerge from assimilating information that we see around us? In Sway, author Pragya Agarwal uncovers the science behind our “unintentional” biases. Using real world stories underpinned by scientific theories and research, this book unravels the way our unconscious biases are affecting the way we communicate, make decisions and perceive the world. A wide range of implicit biases are covered, including left-handedness, age-ism, sexism and aversive racism, and by using research and theories from a wide range of disciplines, including social science, psychology, biology and neuroscience, readers learn how these biases manifest and whether there is anything we can do about them. Beginning with an introduction to what unconscious bias actually is, each chapter answers questions such as:

-Do our roots for prejudice lie in our evolutionary past?
-What happens in our brains when our biases are activated?
-How has bias affected technology?
-Can we ever completely get rid of unconscious bias?

At a time when race politics, the gender pay gap and diversity and inclusivity in the workplace are dominating our conversations, understanding how unconscious bias functions within all of us is more important than ever. The book encourages readers to think, understand and evaluate their own biases in a scientific and non-judgmental way.


October 7, 2020
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