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University of Silesia in Katowice

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how to avoid discriminating?

On this website there is a repeated reminder to “Be alert to signs of discrimination and do not ignore them!”. However, it should be noted:

Start with yourself, i.e. constantly analyse your own behaviour and its consequences.

What does this mean in practice?

The source of an equal treatment attitude is to see oneself and others as valued and deserving appreciation. This by no means entails admiration, but it does mean accepting that what is within me and what (who) surrounds me exists and is important and worthy of consideration.

Micro-inequalities are “small acts of domination and oppression” consisting in subtle, hard to grasp, and often unconscious and unintentional behaviours that devalue the person they are directed towards (because of some characteristic that distinguishes them from the majority). When, in a formal meeting, you ask a man to help you with the projector and a woman to take notes, you are creating micro-inequalities. You are appealing to people’s characteristics and your assumptions about them, not to their positions and functions in the team. You can also create micro-inequalities through your non-verbal communication when you roll your eyes, sigh, or interrupt people with a certain characteristic, e.g. young age.

Treat all students and employees equally regardless of their background, gender, political opinion, nationality, disability, social status, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristics. This does not imply an obligation to treat everyone equally, without any differentiation, but to apply the same norms, requirements, standards in the same or similar situations, e.g. all employees of a given group are subject to the same working time standards, all those studying a given module have the same examination requirements.

If you are in doubt about what constitutes such a term, check or ask, do not stick to your existing beliefs and habits, because attitudes, and therefore behaviours, towards a diverse groups of “Others” are evolving rapidly in today’s world.

Keeping that in mind, analyse both the content and the way it is organised and implemented, e.g. check whether everyone can read the presentation/file, access the building, whether you might be excluding anyone in the process of creating new regulations. Discrimination does not have to be intentional, you may treat others unequally without intending to.

A university lecturer must not require students, doctoral students, colleagues to adopt their views instead of knowledge accumulated in accordance with the scientific method and the rules for conducting research.

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