HBS Research Focuses on Gender Issues and Fixes

As Harvard Business School commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first women admitted to the school's two-year MBA program, a wealth of new research is emerging from HBS on gender issues in the workplace.

In 1963, the first women were admitted to Harvard Business School's two-year MBA program. The 50th anniversary is being celebrated this year at HBS with new faculty research, case studies, and a series of on-campus events and programs focused on the contributions of women to HBS and to the world of business management.

Here are recent articles and working papers on faculty research that focus on gender issues in the workplace and offer specific actions that companies can use to address them. We will be highlighting more work in this area as it develops.

This article is part of a continuing series on faculty research and teaching commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first women to enter Harvard Business School's two-year MBA program.

Few Women on Boards: Is There a Fix?

Women hold only 14 percent of the board seats at S&P 1500 companies. Why is that, and what —if anything —should business leaders and policymakers do about the gender disparity? Research by Professor Boris Groysberg and colleagues shows that male and female board members have very different takes on the issue

Better by the Bunch: Evaluating Job Candidates in Groups

The key to avoiding gender stereotyping in the hiring process lies in evaluating job candidates as a group, rather than one at a time. So says new research by Iris Bohnet, Alexandra van Geen, and Max H. Bazerman.

Leadership Program for Women Targets Subtle Promotion Biases

Despite more women in the corporate work force, they still are underrepresented in executive officer positions. Professor Robin Ely and colleagues propose a new way to think about developing women for leadership.

Gender and Competition: What Companies Need to Know

Do women shy away from competition and thus hurt their careers? Research by Harvard's Kathleen L. McGinn, Iris Bohnet, and Pinar Fletcher suggests the answer is not black and white, and that employers need to understand the "genderness" of their work.

Working paper: An Outside-Inside Evolution in Gender and Professional Work

This study analyzes nearly 20 years of data to explore the adaptation of one professional service firm to an increase in women in the professional workforce and the shifting discourse around gender and work. Research by Lakshmi Ramarajan, Kathleen McGinn, and Deborah Kolb.

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    • Linda Murphy
    • Adjunct Professor/Former CEO Flex Enterprises, Inc., Rochester Institute of Technology
    I believe that while women are still attempting to climb the ladder to the CEO realm at corporations as we have since the 60's; we suffer from the same issue today that we did 50 years ago. As mothers and nurturers, we still struggle with the responsibilities and desires of child bearing and rearing against the balance of career demands and stresses we place upon ourselves to compete with male counterparts. There is one major difference between the sexes in the Boardroom; we women want to take care of it all while men have a less all inclusive drive for corporate/life/family success. Our predisposition to nurture turns to a predisposition to "fix it all." It's tough to effectively balance and channel our 24 hour a day jobs every day on two fronts; home and work.
    • David Physick
    • Consultant, Glowinkowski International
    This is such an important issue. Men and women are different, physically and psychologically. How much of the mess that we're in is due to the downside of the male psyche. We need more of the upside of female psyche to prevail rather than try and see women behave as males. See following from our research archives. All comments welcome! http://www.glowinkowski.com/img/Approach-and-Toolkit/GPI/Impact-of-Gender.pdf
    • Barry Shere
    One would think that 50 years on, this would be a non-issue. Perhaps the issue is that "HBS Research Focuses on Gender Issues and Fixes." Perhaps, as Moynihan said in another context where the issue has grown worse with the fixes, some benign neglect would be helpful. Perhaps you should stop "fixing" things.
    • Kapil Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC(India) Private Limited
    It came to me as a bit of a surprise that the life of female entry to HBS is just 50 years. We consider US to have been very liberal in gender issues since longer but it seems there is not much difference between US and many other countries. A few countries in Europe, I believe, have a better ratio when it comes to learning institutes or jobs.
    The articles included in this HBS Research are thought provoking.
    Despite the physical differences, women are now engaged even in the so-felt male dominated professions eventhough their number is much less. We need to devise means by which this mismatch is minimized as far as possible.