With gender equality increasingly a business imperative, in addition to being a human right, many leaders across the sectors wonder how we can get there. In the first WAPPP Seminar of 2015-16, Professor Bohnet discusses her forthcoming book "What Works: Gender Equality, By Design" (Harvard University Press 2016). Reviewing the impact of what we have been doing to date, including diversity and leadership trainings, networking, and mentorship/sponsorship programs, Bohnet proposes a new approach to leveling the playing field. Building on insights from Behavioral Economics, she argues that to overcome gender bias in organizations and society, we should focus on de-biasing systems—how we evaluate performance, hire, promote, structure tests, form groups—rather than on trying to de-bias people. Speaker: Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy; Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School
Are Two Heads Always Better Than One? Stereotyping of Minority Duos in Work Groups with Denise Lewin Loyd
Is two better than one (or three)? In this seminar, Loyd explores the dynamics of groups with minority duos (such as two women in a group of men). Though many believe that it is worse to be the “only one” in a group, this work finds that men evaluate women more stereotypically when they are in a duo than when there are one or three in a group. In fact, women in duos are rated as contributing less leadership and having fewer skills. In three experimental studies, Loyd looks at how being part of a minority duo can present significant challenges for women.
Despite rhetoric supporting the advancement of women on corporate boards, the evidence of any progress in the last decade is meager (outside countries with mandated gender quotas). Archival board data (approximately 5000 U.S. publicly traded firms) from the past decade (2002-2011) shows that the biggest predictor of whether or not a female is appointed to a corporate board is if a woman just left that board. If a man leaves a board there is a corresponding negative effect (though magnitude of this effect is lower). This “gender matching heuristic” was replicated in follow up lab studies, which also showed that although respondents are selecting candidates based on gender matching, they deny using gender as an important factor. We suggest this gender matching is a subconscious heuristic process stemming from the more general status-quo bias. Speaker: Cathy Tinsley, Professor of Management, Georgetown University