What Is Brilliance Bias?

mindset Jan 03, 2023
Picture of a book shelf to show how most of what we read is about sucessful men.

Brilliance Bias 

Brilliance bias refers to the tendency to attribute genius status to men more so than women. It is often used to measure success and intellectual ability in the workplace and found on many job descriptions. 

How does it sound at work/ look on job descriptions?

‘intellectual ability’








What it does….

  •  creates a stereotype that men are naturally more intelligent than women.
  •  deters women from applying for jobs when they see these terms such as ‘intellectual ability’
  •  women experience ‘imposter feelings’ in higher position jobs as they do not feel as ‘brilliant’ or competent as their male counterparts. See our article on Imposter Syndrome here…
  •  Our children are mostly taught about successful male figures from the past as they are most associated with brilliance. Often information and awareness about successful women is neglected even at an early level of education.

What can you do as a leader?

  • Be careful of the language e.g. intellectual ability, used in job descriptions to ensure women do not self-select and opt out of applying.
  •  Put structures in place that limit discretion and biases that can influence decision making. 

This episode of Ctrl Alt Delete! Podcast with Emma Gannon includes a panel of diverse women discussing the reasons behind why men are perceived as more intelligent than women. Tech company Samsung are involved in the episode too and highlight gender issues they need to change in their company.


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