The working group has completed it's task and submitted a report and recommendations to the Central Council for Church Bellringers.   This website is minimally maintained as an archive and a benchmark to measure future progress.


Judging and unconscious bias

I'm a male ringer in my 30s. A couple of years ago I was invited to judge one of the big 10-bell competitions. I declined the
opportunity (I was flattered but felt it was out of my depth) but to try to be helpful I attempted to offer some alternative suggestions, knowing several experienced higher-numbers judges well enough to be comfortable approaching them to ask if I could pass on their details to the contest organiser. It was quite sobering to realise that when I began typing my list of suggestions, they were all male ringers.

I can think of no good explanation for this other than unconscious bias. I realised I knew plenty of female ringers who would be more than up to the job - not just in my own eyes, but with proven experience of judging serious ringing competitions. In the end I suggested two people, one female and one male, without any comments on my thought process, to the contest organiser who subsequently approached them in that order.

At the time, I found this situation particularly striking since, only a year or two previously, I had attempted to address a similar systemic bias elsewhere in ringing and, it pains me to say, I felt quite 'woke' to the issue. This chain of events taught me it is clearly it is more complicated than that when unconscious bias is concerned. I am certainly not denying the existence of more conscious and malicious biases, but I am convinced that unconscious gender bias is a big issue in ringing and beyond and, in my opinion, can be far more challenging to identify and address than more overt discrimination.