CASBS Symposium: "Women in Tech: Where Have We Seen Progress? Where are We Stuck?" with Sapna Cheryan and Shelley Correll
Annenberg Fellow at CASBS 2016-17
Associate Professor, Social Psychology
University of Washington
CASBS Fellow 2015-16
Professor, Sociology and Organizational Behavior
Barbara D. Finberg Director, Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Stereotypes of Computer Scientists Constrain Women’s Opportunities in Tech
Despite having made significant inroads into a variety of traditionally male-dominated fields, women continue to be underrepresented in computer science. Many theories have been put forth to explain this phenomenon, ranging from innate female inferiority in quantitative skills to an unwillingness by women to put in late hours. Sapna Cheryan’s research shifts the explanation for this underrepresentation away from women’s deficiencies and instead examines whether it is the image of computer science, fueled by inaccurate stereotypes, that interferes with women’s ability to see themselves in these fields. Cheryan’s research demonstrates that current perceptions of computer scientists deter women, but not men, from the field. However, when the field’s prominent stereotypes are altered using environments and role models, women express more interest in computer science. Broadening the image of who does computer science may be fundamentally important to reducing gender disparities in the field.
Evaluating Women and Men in Tech: The Gendered Language of Performance Assessment
Even though tech companies invest heavily in increasing the diversity of their workforce, women and other groups remain vastly underrepresented. Drawing on a two-year in-depth case study of a technology company in Silicon Valley, Shelley Correll assesses how stereotypic biases affect the evaluations of men and women tech workers. An analysis of written performance evaluations of employees by their manager reveals that men are more likely to be described as taking charge, visionary, and game-changers, while women are more likely to be viewed as helpful, dedicated, and loyal. Further, compared to men’s reviews, women’s reviews are less likely to include developmental feedback and are more likely to draw attention to problems with their communication style. Finally, language more commonly associated with women is a less powerful predictor of higher ratings for both men and women, where language more commonly associated with men predicts higher ratings for men but not women. After discussing the implications of these results, Correll will conclude with a brief description of an intervention currently underway to reduce the biasing effect of stereotypes on employee evaluations.
Sapna Cheryan is associate professor of social psychology at the University of Washington and a 2016-17 Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at CASBS. Her research investigates the role of cultural stereotypes in causing and perpetuating racial and gender disparities in U.S. society. She has published many articles on these topics in journals such as Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Psychological Bulletin. Her work on how current stereotypes of computer scientists contribute to gender disparities in the field has been cited widely in media outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post. In 2009, Cheryan received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2014, the White House announced a high school computer science classroom design prize based on her research. She currently is working on developing a theoretical and analytical framework for understanding and ameliorating gender bias in academic and workplace cultures.
Shelley Correll is professor of sociology and organizational behavior at Stanford University and the Barbara D. Finberg Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She was a CASBS fellow during the 2015-16 academic year. Her expertise is in the areas of gender, workplace dynamics and organizational culture. She has received numerous national awards for her research on the “motherhood penalty,” research that demonstrates how motherhood influences the workplace evaluations, pay and job opportunities of mothers. Correll recently led a nationwide, interdisciplinary project on “redesigning work” that evaluates how workplaces structures and practices can reconfigured to be simultaneously more inclusive and more innovative. She also is studying how gender stereotypes and organizational practices affect the entry and retention of women in technical professions and how the growth of the craft beer industry affects the founding and success of women brewers. She currently is writing a book titled Delivering on Diversity: Eliminating Bias and Spurring Innovation.