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Tinsley presents research while on sabbatical at Harvard Business School

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 12:00pm to Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 5:00pm
Harvard Business School


CBPP senior policy scholar Catherine Tinsley (Raffini Family Professor of Management, McDonough School of Business, and Faculty Director of the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Institute) was on sabbatical leave during Fall 2016 conducting research while in residence at the Harvard Business School’s Organizational Behavior Unit.

At Harvard, Tinsley presented selections from her current research portfolio, including:

“Should We Worry About Gender Differences in Negotiation?"
Harvard Business School, Program on Negotiation Research Lab (September 12, 2016)
We question how meaningful gender differences in negotiation really are. We present empirical evidence from reviews and meta-analyses of several studies to suggest that our discourse about gender differences is likely exaggerated and from two original studies (co-authored with Taeya Howell and Emily Amanatullah) demonstrating why we should care about this hyperbolic rhetoric.

“Improving outcomes for women by de-emphasizing gender differences”
Harvard Business School, Organizational Behavior Unit (September 26, 2016)
There is theoretical debate as to whether the path towards gender parity is enabled by companies emphasizing an “embrace gender differences” approach or whether a “gender-blind” approach is more useful. We explain why we believe a gender-blind approach has merits and offer some preliminary data in support of its efficacy. We are about to test this as an actual intervention in a Fortune 50 company. (research in progress with Taeya Howell and Emily Amanatullah)

“Evaluating the Economic, Psycho-Social, and Health Impacts for Women in a Targeted Global Value Chain Intervention”
Harvard Business School, Gender Initiative seminar (September 27, 2016)
We evaluate the effects of a global value chain (GVC) intervention in Masoro, Rwanda, where Kate Spade & Company (KS&Co.) has engaged a local cooperative, called ADC, to assemble handbags for the global market. A GVC is a set of coordinated economic activities – typically orchestrated by a “lead firm” – that brings a product from conception to consumer. On the one hand, the KS&Co. initiative might be applauded for providing stable employment as well as targeted life skills support to an employee population of 151, 98% of whom are women. An economic lens suggests that GVC-related activities boost income at the level of both the country and the worker, and that exporting builds skills in a local population that foster development. On the other hand, critics often charge that GVC-related employment may be exploitive, and that the benefits from GVC involvement are funneled away from disadvantaged members of society. Moreover, recent research explicitly evaluates the effects of GVC engagement on women, and finds conflicting results. The KS&Co. initiative is noteworthy, in part, because it targets women, giving them a source of stable income. Yet in a society where men have higher status than women and strong gender roles exist, it is unclear whether this intervention will have unintended negative repercussions. Using a survey methodology with members of the community as a control group, we demonstrate positive effects of ADC employment on material well-being, as well as perceptual health and psycho-social well- being. We also find evidence of gender role movement without any evidence of any de-stabilizing effects. Interestingly, the results also show that perceived improvements in health and psycho-social well-being are only partly explained by improvements in material well-being. Thus, this particular GVC intervention seems to have broad positive impacts upon worker’s lives, beyond simply economic empowerment. (research in progress with Ed Soule, Georgetown, and Pietra Rivoli, Georgetown)

“Should I stay or should I go: How fit, feedback, and financial factors influence undergraduates' major switching behavior”
Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit (October 19, 2016)
Prior research suggests that genders may differ in the factors that influence their selection of an undergraduate major. In particular, it has been proposed that women are less prevalent in some majors because they are more sensitive than men to negative feedback in the form of relatively low grades in major-related classes. We test this hypothesis using a unique dataset from a large private university on the East coast that contains data from 2008-2016 on undergraduate students' choices of major, as well as their performance, classroom composition, and faculty composition across all their courses. We hypothesize that students' major choices are affected by three types of signals: (1) their own performance in a form of relative grades in major-related classes, (2) class composition in terms of gender and race, (3) signals from the broader cultural environment that impose stereotypes about student's fit for a major. The preliminary findings suggest that while preferences play a large role in the choice of a major, signals play a significant role at the margin and drive students' switching behavior. We find that both females and males are likely to change their major in response to poor grades in major-related courses. However, females in male-dominated majors do not exhibit different patterns of switching behaviors relative to their male colleagues. On the other hand, females are more likely to switch out of male-dominated STEM majors in response to poor performance, relative to their male colleagues. Our results suggest that policy efforts to correct gender imbalance in STEM majors have unintended consequences of re-enforcing a gender-stereotypic narrative that contributes to a normative gender imbalance. (research in the early stages)