334: Blended – Education: The Last Socially Acceptable Bias

Welcome back to Blended! It’s episode 31, I’m joined by a brand new panel of inspirational professionals and, today, we’re talking about education and bias.

It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, with my own educational and career journey. And, it’s a topic that has increasingly come under the spotlight recently in light of the labor shortages and trending workplace changes we’ve seen industry-wide. So now is the perfect time to really explore what’s going wrong, or right, with the way we think about education in the workplace.

Today, our guests will be diving into education and sharing their own experiences; exploring the hiring practices that often continue to support bias; reflecting on what the next generation are doing and thinking about when it comes to education and their careers; and sharing their words of advice for how organizations can tackle education bias and create more diverse workplaces.



[00.44] Introductions to our Blended panellists.

  • Rose – CEO and Principal Consultant at The Opening Door
  • Jennifer – Executive Director at TMSA (Transportation Marketing and Sales Association)
  • Stella – Professor at Towson University

“Education bias is somebody being treated differently, or unfavorably, based on their educational background, where they went to school and what level of education they have.” Rose

[02.32] The group give an overview of education bias, and what it means to them.

“It was instilled in me from the second I was born: education, education, education… When I finished my degree, I felt that if I wanted to make more money, if I wanted to really excel in the corporate world, I had to have an MBA. And it took me a long time to think deeper about why I felt that way, and if I really needed it to be successful. ” Rose

[05.09] The panel share their personal experiences, their level of education and how important it has been to their professional career.

  • Sarah’s experience of ‘only’ gaining a high school diploma; then studying at night school, trying different things, and gaining certifications whilst working, in order to boost her professional career
  • Different types of education, eg. degree vs industry certifications, high school vs. higher education
  • Stella’s experience of switching fields from her degree to her master’s; how a previous employer allowed her flexibility to pursue a PhD; and why she ultimately changed career, from the pharmaceutical industry to academia
  • Stella’s experience of opportunity in America versus in India, and her parents encouragement of higher education
  • Rose’s experience of being raised with the importance of education, and finally coming to terms with the fact that it might not be as important as she was raised to believe
  • The assumption that additional education equals money and success
  • The cost of education
  • Jennifer’s experience of teaching at a community college, and as a parent of a child with ADHD
  • Continued education in the workplace
  • Responsibility

“Companies say ‘we want to retain more employees, what can we do?’ Well, help develop them! Develop them, make them want to stay with you. Sometimes simple questions have simple answers, we just have to take the time.” Jennifer

[23.14] The group discuss education bias within industry, and the age-old debate of experience vs education.

“To be on a tenure track, you typically have to have a PhD. And then once you get into your field, then it becomes rank – are you an assistant professor, associate professor or professor – so you still have a PhD, but rank becomes an issue.” Stella

  • Stella’s experience working in academia
  • Differing ranks and salaries within the workplace, even with the same level of education
  • Stereotypes and judgements about different types of PhD, eg ‘they’re just liberal arts’
  • Elitism
  • Ego
  • Affinity bias
  • Importance of diversity

“It’s hard to acknowledge and recognize your ego… but if we build more self-awareness, we can start to realise when our ego is leading things in the wrong direction, and the more we address that, we would see less bias.” Rose

[38.57] The panel reflect on what they’re seeing in the market around education bias and hiring practices.

  • Job descriptions
  • Expectations
  • The importance of not dismissing people if they don’t have the ‘perfect’ educational background
  • Using technology to pre-filter applications
  • Asking the right questions
  • Role of HR – who is hiring/writing job descriptions?
  • Input from the team who will work with new hires
  • The pace of evolving technology – education getting out of date
  • The structure of a resume
  • How many years’ experience equals a degree?
  • What do you actually want out of your career?
  • Self-taught knowledge
  • Power of self-belief

“I think we put too much emphasis on education and not experience, but there is a catch 22. Because the requirement for an entry level job is 5 years – that doesn’t make sense!” Jennifer

[54.13] The group put the spotlight on the next generation, and what they’re thinking about when it comes to education and ongoing learning.

  • Need for more authenticity in the workplace
  • Young people building personal brands
  • Exploration of self-employment and entrepreneurship
  • Greater understanding of new technologies
  • Giving people a chance
  • Parents, educational institutions and communities working together


[1.04.57] The panel sums up their thoughts from today’s discussion.




You can connect with Rose, Jennifer and Stella over on LinkedIn.

If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, why not check out 328: Blended – Breaking the Class Ceiling, or 265: Blended – DEI in the Workplace – Not Just The Smart Thing To Do, But The Right Thing To Do.

Check out our other podcasts HERE.

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