Introduction to GBA+

Individual assumptions affect public policy

We might assume that our work or our policies apply to everyone equally and there are no gender or diversity issues to consider.

GBA+ helps us to think about differences in a constructive way. Recognizing that not all people experience life in the same way is the first step to understanding unconscious bias. GBA+ can help us think about different groups of people and consider how their diverse lived experiences might be different from our own, and from others’. GBA+ can also guide questions we should ask ourselves to challenge assumptions.

To serve the public effectively, it is important to be aware of the assumptions and biases about other groups of people that we may have developed, without even realizing it. Incorrect and uninformed assumptions can lead to initiatives having an unintended or unequal impact on particular groups of people. GBA+ promotes research, evidence, and critical thinking to help uncover the realities of peoples’ lives, identify gaps, and find ways to address their needs.

Challenge your assumptions by asking

  • Are there gender, culture or ability implications and considerations in the work that I do? Who says that it is an issue? Whose point of view is reflected in defining the problem?
  • Have I consulted with affected populations? Is my analysis based solely on my own perception and experience(s)?
  • Have I developed assumptions and biases based on my work with specific populations?
  • Is it possible that my assumptions are preventing me from engaging with communities, asking questions and understanding answers that are outside my own experience or beyond my understanding?
  • How might biases, attitudes and norms – my own, those of my organization, and those of the institutions and society that surround me – influence my position? Does it limit my work and the range of policy options I consider and propose?
  • Why is it that I think about the issue in this way? Have I always thought about the issue this way? How is the way I think about the issue informed by my family, friends, media, research, and evidence?