'Passionate and urgent.' Guardian, Book of the Week
'A must-read for all.' Stylist, best new books for 2020
'Cogently argued and intensely persuasive. Groundbreaking Work.' Waterstones, best new books of April
'Impressive and much-needed.' Financial Times, Best Business Books April to June
'Admirably detailed.' Prospect Magazine
'Practical, useful, readable and essential for the times we are living in.' Nikesh Shukla
'An eye-opening book that I hope will be widely read.' Angela Saini
'If you think you don't need to read this book, you really need to read this book.' Jane Garvey
'An eye-opening book looking at unconscious bias. Meticulously researched and well written. It will make you think hard about the judgements you make. An essential read for our times.' Kavita Puri, BBC Journalist and author
For the first time, behavioural and data scientist, activist and writer Dr Pragya Agarwal unravels the way our implicit or 'unintentional' biases affect the way we communicate and perceive the world, how they affect our decision-making, and how they reinforce and perpetuate systemic and structural inequalities.
Sway is a thoroughly researched and comprehensive look at unconscious bias and how it impacts day-to-day life, from job interviews to romantic relationships to saving for retirement. It covers a huge number of sensitive topics - sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, colourism - with tact, and combines statistics with stories to paint a fuller picture and enhance understanding. Throughout, Pragya clearly delineates theories with a solid grounding in science, answering questions such as: do our roots for prejudice lie in our evolutionary past? What happens in our brains when we are biased? How has bias affected technology? If we don't know about it, are we really responsible for it?
At a time when partisan political ideologies are taking centre stage, and we struggle to make sense of who we are and who we want to be, it is crucial that we understand why we act the way we do. This book will enables us to open our eyes to our own biases in a scientific and non-judgmental way.
In a well-researched and cogent work, behavioral scientist Agarwal reveals the many ways implicit or unconscious bias influences one's decisions, worldview, and interactions with others. Elucidating recent neuroscience developments, she shows unconscious bias isn't as cognitively hardwired as previously believed, and is shaped throughout a lifetime by society, upbringing, and environment. Having been learned, Agarwal writes, biases can be unlearned. She covers a variety of biases, including those based in gender, race, age, accent, and appearance, drawing on evolutionary theory and neurological and psychological studies to illustrate how these prejudices form and how they can be recognized and addressed. Agarwal highlights how pervasive bias is and how it impacts employment, health care, and interactions with police and the courts. She also examines implicit bias in technology, noting that programmers' biases are reflected in software, in turn reinforcing bias in the real world. Though the bulk of the work is scientific, Agarwal also delves into relevant personal experiences, such as those of growing up in her native India's patriarchal society, or of encountering racial stereotyping while working and raising children in England. Despite a generally scholarly tone, this relevant work accessibly reveals the insidious nature of stereotyping and does much to encourage readers to examine and take responsibility for their own implicit biases.