William Bielby, University of Illinois at Chicago: Interventions That Work: Alternative Paths to Minimizing Workplace Gender Bias

The following are my notes from Bielby’s presentation at the HBS Gender & Work Conference, March 1, 2013.

HR Magazine article on detecting hidden bias, Wall Street Journal article suggesting a fix for gender bias by evaluating people in enough numbers (select groups of employees, rather than individual employees) — these solutions are way too simplistic, one cannot remedy the habits of the mind so easily.

Ten years ago [2003 Dukes v. Wal-Mart Expert Witness Report]: Counterstereotypic images, habits of mind do not change easily and bounce back.

Is it all about cognitive mistakes of well-intentioned folks? Diversity training doesn’t really work. Making end-runs to bypass stereotypes. Even if it’s in our heads, remedies are organizational.

Cotter, Hermsen & Vanneman (2012): Occupational gender desegregation stalled out in the 1980s & 90s [tables such as this and this displayed]

Simple tinkering with gender-neutral fixes will not necessarily help; this is an intransigent problem. The representation of women in executive positions does not affect the representation of women in lower ranks of organizations, but the representation of women on boards of directors did [similar to Rose & Bielby, 2011?].

The problem is not all in our heads and is not solved by fixing errors of clueless supervisors. It’s even about more than accountability and structures. It’s about discussions and definitions of organizations and work, about blueprints and organizational logic.

Dukes v. Wal-Mart case and effects [NYT interview]. Beyond structure and cognition: Organizational logics and the new economy, collaboration, compliance and culture.

[My laptop battery ran out before his talk, so the notes above were taken by hand and were not terribly complete.]

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