Sunday, June 17, 2012

Personal World View and Bias

Bias and Women's Rights

After considering the results of my ADDRESSING format application (Sue & Sue, 2008) as well as taking a few of the tests from the Implicit Project (Project Implicit, 2011), perhaps the most pervasive bias I have is toward women's rights. Women deserve and have the right to be free from the gendered constraints of society and culture as well as from religious canons that subtly disable these rights. According to Sue and Sue (2008), "although women make up 51% of the United States population, they are underrepresented in positions of power and are victimized by stereotyping and discrimination" (p. 469).

Around the world and in many cultures, religious, and less frequently, secular notions place women in subservient roles. Although this subservience is often subtle, I am riled by the smack of its inequality and other implications. Needless to say, when a female client considers herself in a subservient or compliant position in relation to a male (husband, father, friend, colleague) it would be my natural inclination to help her see the detriment of her situation.


The implications of my bias and world view could be helpful for some clients. For example, if a woman is being mistreated or coerced into a typically female role that is uncomfortable or compromising and she has a desire to remove herself from the situation, my perceptions could help support her determination by being exposed to alternative ideas.

However, the implications of my perspective may be misplaced if I am counseling a young woman who has recently relocated with her family into the United States from Mexico. She describes the rigid constraint her father places on her when she expresses a desire to work in an environment unacceptable to him. Relinquishing my hold on personal values and world views would be important in this situation, when religious or cultural factors determine a familial hierarchy and the male's authority over the family. Disrupting this echelon would be counterproductive to the girl's ability to function appropriately within the family unit.

According to Sue and Sue (2008) in Hispanic American culture, males are expected to be the dominant provider for the family while females are "expected to be nurturant, submissive to the male, and self-sacrificing (p. 380). The implications of forcing my bias and other cultural norms would be contraindicated and would most likely have a detrimental result on the woman as well as the family.

Addressing the Challenge

In counseling or any profession in which individuals work to help others from a personal perspective (which is, of course, a natural proclivity,) it is essential to understand the pervasive nature of bias and world view as both a consequence and a reflection of culture and upbringing (Hays, 2008). It is ultimately important that I do not thrust upon clients the implied superiority of my values and beliefs, even when I may have subtle or unconscious preferences or the belief that my perspective is more right than theirs.


Hays, P. (2008) Addressing Cultural Complexities In Practice. (2nd Ed.) Washington, DC American Psychological Association.

Project Implicit. (2011). IAT Home. Implicit Association Test. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from

Sue, D.W., Sue, D (2008). Counseling the Culturally Diverse Theory and Practice (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.

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