Oct 1, 2018 2 min read

The Power of a Simple Ah-Ha Moment

Picture of a woman holding a mirror.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to participate in my first diversity workshop. In that workshop, we covered many of what many might consider DEI basics. It was the place I was first introduced formally to the concepts and language of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was a short session, about two hours. It included a lecture, some discussion, and a few exercises. Even decades later, I can still remember one of the exercises. Please think about this and try to answer it for yourself before reading on.

A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he's about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, "I can't operate--that boy is my son!" How can this be?

Ah-Ha Moments are Sticky

This was years ago, but I still remember my struggles and how long our class sat with this exercise before finally stopping the deliberation. Only one person in our group was able to provide an answer. It wasn’t me. As a woman whose early career was in science and technology, how was I unable to open my thinking enough to imagine the doctor was a woman and a mother or perhaps the child’s other father? This was a very simple exercise in a basic introductory class. Yet, the learning has stuck with me. There is nothing like a simple and well-constructed ah-ha moment to make learning sticky.

Learning Does Not Mean Change

Since that class, I’ve learned much more about how our brains work, about blind spots, and bias. Still today, I occasionally catch myself falling into the same old trap. Someone mentions a doctor, and I assume they must be a man. Yet, now I’m more self-aware and able to catch these thoughts and correct myself. I'm also able to act in ways that align with my values and intentions, not merely based on old thought patterns and bias. At this moment, more than half of my personal physicians and specialists are women. Classroom learning does not mean change, at least not right away.

Source for exercise text above: Hobson, N. (2022). This 50-Year-Old Riddle That Continues to Stump Us Explains Why We Still Have a Strong Gender Bias. Inc. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/nick-hobson/the-100-year-old-riddle-that-continues-to-stump-us-explains-why-we-still-have-a-strong-gender-bias.html

Ame Sanders
Founder of State of Inclusion. A seasoned leader & change-maker, she is focused on positive change within communities.
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